Boeing forecasts ME fleet to double by 2041

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Picture used for illustrative purposes.

With air travel and tourism continuing to drive Middle Eastern economic growth, Boeing said on Monday that the region’s passenger traffic and commercial fleet are projected to more than double over the next two decades. The company announced its estimate in the 2022 Boeing Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), a forecast of 20-year demand.

Middle Eastern carriers have successfully managed through challenges brought on by the pandemic by adjusting their business models and increasing usage of freighters to maximize revenue. Looking ahead, the region’s fleet is forecasted to expand to 3,400 airplanes to serve fast-growing passenger traffic as well as cargo demand, Boeing said.

“The Middle East region, a popular connection point for international travelers and trade, is also growing as a starting point and destination for business and leisure passengers,” said Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of Commercial Marketing for the Middle East and Africa, and Russia and Central Asia Regions. “The region will continue to require a versatile fleet that meets the demands of airline and air-cargo business models.”

Middle East airlines will require 2,980 new airplanes valued at $765 billion to serve passengers and trade. More than two-thirds of these deliveries will enable growth, while one-third will replace older airplanes with more fuel-efficient models such as the Boeing 737 MAX, 787 Dreamliner and 777X.

Notably, air cargo traffic flown by Middle East carriers has continued its substantial growth of recent years; two of the world’s top five cargo carriers by tonnage are based in the region. To serve future demand, the Middle East freighter fleet is projected to reach 170 by 2041, more than doubling the pre-pandemic fleet.

The 2022 Middle East CMO also includes these projections through 2041: Passenger traffic is expected to grow at 4% annually. Passenger widebody aircraft demand continues to be robust, with 1,290 deliveries supporting a growing network of international routes. The Middle East single-aisle market will more than double, reaching 1,650 jets to serve regional and international destinations.    Demand for aftermarket commercial services including maintenance and repair valued at $275 billion.

The region also will require 202,000 new aviation personnel, including 53,000 pilots, 50,000 technicians and 99,000 cabin crew members in the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s 2022 Pilot and Technician Outlook.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced recently that passenger data for July shows that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong.

Total traffic in July was up 58.8 per cent compared to July 2021. Globally, traffic is now at 74.6 per cent of pre-crisis levels.

Domestic traffic for July was up 4.1 per cent compared to the year-ago period and is now driving the recovery. Total July domestic traffic was at 86.9 per cent of the July 2019 level. China saw a strong month-to-month improvement compared to June.

International traffic rose 150.6 per cent versus July 2021. International RPKs in July reached 67.9 per cent of July 2019 levels. All markets reported strong growth, led by Asia-Pacific.

IATA director-general, Willie Walsh, said: “July’s performance continued to be strong, with some markets approaching pre-Covid levels. And that is even with capacity constraints in parts of the world that were unprepared for the speed at which people returned to travel. There is still more ground to recover, but this is an excellent sign as we head into the traditionally slower autumn and winter quarters in the Northern Hemisphere.”

According to IATA the Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic climbed 193.1 per cent in July compared to July 2021. July capacity rose 84.1 per cent versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 30.5 percentage points to 82.0 per cent. The Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 528.8 per cent rise in July traffic compared to July 2021, the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 159.9 per cent and the load factor was up 47.1 percentage points to 80.2 per cent.

 European carriers saw July traffic rise 115.6 per cent versus July 2021. Capacity rose 64.3 per cent, and load factor climbed 20.6 percentage points to 86.7 per cent, the second highest among the regions.

 North American carriers had a 129.2 per cent traffic rise in July versus the 2021 period. Capacity rose 79.9 per cent, and load factor climbed 19.4 percentage points to 90.3 per cent, which was the highest among the regions for a second month.

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