Boeing estimates that China will need 5,000 new planes worth $600 billion by 2030, as growing wealth among the middle class triggers an air-travel boom.
Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing's commercial airplane division, said the company has revised up its expectations from last year, when it predicted China would need 4,330 new planes by 2029.
Tinseth told reporters in Beijing the upgrade comes after the company enjoyed "a better year" than expected in China and also reflects greater demand for air travel among Chinese.
"Sustained strong economic growth, growing trade activities, increasing personal wealth and income, as well continued market liberalization will be the driving forces in shaping China's air travel market," he said.
"But also, especially as we look at the international, we see an opportunity for the Chinese carriers to grow their market share."
Boeing predicts that over the next 20 years, Chinese airlines' fleet of planes will increase from the current 1,750 to 5,930.
Of the new planes, 16% will be replacements for aging aircraft and 84% extra purchases, Tinseth said.
China's air travel is booming. A total of 267 million air-passenger trips were recorded in the country in 2010, up 15.8% from the previous year, official figures show.
"We are becoming more Asia-centric," said Tinseth. "For the first time last year, the North American travel market was surpassed by travel within the Asia-Pacific [region)] ...
"China will account for more than 40% of demand in the Asia Pacific" over the next 20 years, he added.
He said Boeing has no plans to set up an assembly factory in China, unlike its European rival Airbus, which already operates a plant for A320 planes in the northern city of Tianjin.
Tinseth said Boeing aims to maintain its 51% to 52% share of the Chinese market.
But the planned launch of the China-made C919 commercial plane in 2016 could make this difficult, as it will compete directly with the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011