Boeing Co. on Friday forecast that South Asia, dominated by India, will need about 2,400 new planes valued at nearly $375 billion over the next two decades on hopes that demand for air travel will stage a strong recovery from the ravages of the pandemic.
The count includes potential demand for 2,000 single-aisle jets from Indian carriers, according to Boeing.
The forecast by the US planemaker comes a day after its European rival Airbus SE made a similar bullish projection for the Indian civil aviation market, saying the country will require about 2,100 new planes over the next 20 years.
Growing disposable incomes, lower fares spurred by intense competition among carriers, and the launch of new routes, especially to smaller towns and cities, is encouraging more people to travel by air in India.
Economic expansion and growing international trade are meanwhile lifting freighter demand in India.
However, most commercial airlines in India remain money-losing, bogged down by inflated operating costs due to rising jet fuel prices and high infrastructure costs.
In its annual South Asia and India Commercial Market Outlook, Boeing said that it anticipates resilient long-term demand for commercial planes and related services in South Asia.
“Single-aisle airplanes will increase their share of total airplane demand to serve India’s vast domestic market and competitive regional market, which includes established carriers as well as start-up airlines,” Boeing said in its report issued at the ongoing Wings India 2022 aviation show in Hyderabad.
Speaking at the event, David Schulte, managing director, regional marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said competitive domestic markets and opportunities on international routes—both backed by government policies to reduce airline cost and taxes—would promote growth in South Asia’s civil aviation market.
We project robust demand for air travel in South Asia with carriers increasing services, and passengers feeling confident about travel to see family and friends and do business, as well as from air cargo,” Schulte said.
On the Indian market, Boeing said, “Single-aisle airplanes such as the 737 family will continue to serve growth in domestic and regional markets, including flights from India to the Middle East and the Asia Pacific regions.”
Indian carriers will also need 240 new widebody planes such as the 787 Dreamliner to meet the demand for operating flights to long-haul destinations, said Boeing.
“India’s air cargo growth is expected to average 6.3% annually, driven by the country’s manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, including its Make in India initiative. Boeing forecast demand for over 75 freighters, including 10 widebodies and 737 Boeing Converted Freighters,” the company said, adding that India’s civil aviation industry will need close to 100,000 new pilots, technicians and cabin crew personnel over the next decade.
Meanwhile, Boeing has halted deliveries of its 787 widebody planes since May 2021 due to production constraints.
Consequently, Indian full-service carrier Vistara, which is among the airlines that have ordered such planes globally, has been left in the lurch as it cannot expand international operations due to aircraft unavailability.
Schulte didn’t say when deliveries of the 787 would resume.