Aviation Boom in Asia, Middle East Cushions Boeing

Aircraft orders have been streaming in from the two regions, making up for softer demand in the United States and Europe.

An aviation boom in Asia and the Middle East is cushioning Boeing from economic headwinds in the United States and Europe, the aircraft manufacturer said Thursday.

Orders for aircraft have been streaming in from airlines in the two regions even as U.S. and European carriers waver on their plane purchases, said Boeing Vice President of Flight Services Sherry Carbary.

"The U.S. economic conditions are a little uncertain. They're not taking a lot of airplanes, they don't have a lot of airplanes on order, same with Europe," she stated in a press briefing in Singapore.

"Where the growth is and where the orders have been is in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East regions and that's not slowing down. So frankly ... we don't anticipate too much of a slowdown over the next few years," she added.

Forecasts of the aviation industry in the next two decades released by Boeing showed the Asia-Pacific leading the way in new-airplane deliveries as well as market value compared with other regions worldwide.

Asia-Pacific will take in 11,450 new airplanes by 2030, more than a third of the forecasted world total of 33,500, the Chicago-based aircraft maker predicted.

The firm also said that 48% of all travel in 2030 will be to, from or within the Asia Pacific.

The market value of the Asia-Pacific aviation industry in 2030 is projected by Boeing to total $1.5 trillion, or 37% of the global total. Market values for the other regions did not even cross the $900 billion mark.

Asia-Pacific's Aviation Boom

Boeing in September highlighted the Asia-Pacific's aviation boom by stating that the region was facing a severe pilot shortfall with some carriers forced to cut flights and ground new planes because of the gap.

It also estimated that Asian powerhouse China would need 5,000 new planes worth $600 billion by 2030 -- raising a previous forecast of 4,330 planes by 2029 -- as growing wealth among the country's middle class triggers an air-travel boom.

For the Middle East, Boeing said the region's resilience in weathering the economic downturn of 2009 and its strong growth last year bode well for its growth prospects.

"While air-transport markets in the rest of the world shrank during the global economic downturn of 2009, international air travel continued to grow for Middle East carriers, demonstrating the region's prominence in global air travel," the firm said in an online report.

"International traffic continued to grow during 2010, rising 17.8% for Middle Eastern carriers -- far exceeding the world average of 8.2% growth," the report added.

The fastest-growing markets for international passenger traffic during the 2009-2014 period will be China, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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