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Friday, June 15, 2007

Boeing Forecasts Mainlines Will Offer More Non-Stop Flights on Smaller Aircraft

In a more conservative forecast than either Embraer (ERJ) or Bombardier (BBD), Boeing (BA) is predicting a need for 3,700 regional jets with no more than 90 seats, about 350 more than what it predicted last year. By 2026, it said, regional jets will number 4,180 aircraft in the worldwide fleet, according to Boeing. In a new forecast of aircraft requirements, Boeing predicted airlines will use smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft on non-stop flights because passengers have indicated they will pay more for convenient, high frequency, non-stop flights. The forecast bodes well for regionals who are taking on longer haul non-stop flights for their major partners as evidenced by recent marketing announcements made by mainline carriers.
Indeed, airlines may finally be getting the message as they plan for more non-stop flights in an effort to respond to complaints about travel hassles associated with the hub-and-spoke system. Even so, the greatest need in mainliner fleets is single-aisle aircraft, said Boeing which forecast 17,650 deliveries during the forecast period which could mean some of the more efficient narrow-bodies could be used for the more-direct service. However, regionals could fill the void in the meantime.
''Airlines are responding to the true needs of passengers to save more time on more capable aircraft,'' Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing's commercial airplane division, said. ''Airlines have accommodated air travel by adding more frequencies and nonstops, and what's most important for us is that we've seen this trend for the last 20 to 25 years, and we expect this trend to continue into the future.''
Boeing increased its commercial aircraft market projections to $2.8 trillion, up $200 billion from the forecast it issued last year. Bombardier’s prediction, covering the 20- to 59-seat aircraft segment, calls for approximately 1,000 aircraft through 2026. The industry will retire 1,600 aircraft for a total replacement and growth rate of 2,900 aircraft in 2026. In the 60- to 99-seat aircraft segment, Bombardier expects demand to reach approximately 4,300 aircraft. Fleet numbers will grow from 1,700 in 2006 to 5,000 by the end of the forecast period, including 1,000 aircraft retirements.
Embraer predicted a need for 7,500 regional jets between 2007 and 2026 in the 30- to 120-seat range but indicated the industry will continue to move toward larger equipment. It forecast a need for 1,400 aircraft in the 30- to 60-seat range as well as 2,600 aircraft in the 61-to 90-seat segment. For the 90- to 121-seat size aircraft, it sees a need for 3,500 over the forecast period.
It pegs China as the fastest growing market. Its capacity growth rate of 8.1 percent will combine with increased load factors to propel its airline traffic from just under a fifth the size of the North American domestic market today to over half the size of the North American market in 20 years' time.
European and CIS domestic traffic levels will overtake the North American domestic market in the near term, the company said, before falling back to its slightly lower share by the end of the forecast period. The North American market will experience the reverse of the European phenomenon, with constrained domestic growth in the near term and capacity transfers to stronger international routes. Domestic markets will then recover in the medium to long term.
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