LONDON: Boeing has cut its two-decade forecast for plane deliveries to the Middle East, as Gulf carriers face turbulent times amid a wider backdrop of regional strife.
The world’s biggest plane maker on Tuesday said it expects 2,990 aircraft deliveries to the Middle East over the next two decades, with a total market value of $660 billion.
That is lower than last year, when Boeing forecast that there would be 3,350 aircraft deliveries between 2017 and 2036, with a market value of $730 billion.
Boeing said that the total fleet size in the Middle East would stand at 3,890 by 2037, lower than the 3,900 it forecast earlier for the year 2036. The news comes at a turbulent time for several Middle Eastern carriers.
The Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad is currently in consolidation and restructuring mode, its international expansion plans on hold following the insolvency of its European partners Air Berlin and Alitalia. The airline posted an annual loss of $1.5 billion for 2017.
Dubai’s Emirates has fared better than its Abu Dhabi counterpart, reporting a $1.1 billion profit for the year ending March 2018.
But Qatar Airways has been hit hard by the boycott of its home market by the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — with flights between those countries and Doha suspended.
Despite the lower forecast, Boeing said Middle Eastern airlines can expect “resilient growth” in the coming 20 years.
“Today, the Middle East accounts for only 3.7 percent of global GDP, while its airlines provide about 10 percent of global capacity, illustrating some of the region’s advantages,” Boeing said in its Commercial Market Outlook.
The lower forecast for the Middle East is at odds with the global trend, with Boeing raising its long-term estimate for commercial airplanes orders on the back of rising passenger traffic and upcoming airplane retirements.
Its report, published yesterday to coincide with the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, said that globally there would be a need for 42,730 new jets — valued at $6.3 trillion — over the next 20 years.
That is a 3 percent increase from its estimate a year ago, when it forecast 41,030 deliveries.
“The global airplane fleet will also sustain growing demand for commercial aviation services, leading to a total market opportunity of $15 trillion,” Boeing said.
“For the first time in years, we are seeing economies growing in every region of the world. This synchronized growth is providing more stimulus for global air travel. We are seeing strong traffic trends not only in the emerging markets of China and India, but also the mature markets of Europe and North America,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of commercial marketing at Boeing.
“Along with continued traffic expansion, the data show a big retirement wave approaching as older airplanes age out of the global fleet.”
Tinseth said that 44 percent of the new airplane orders globally will be needed to replace old jets, while the rest will support future growth.
Including airplanes that will be retained, the global fleet is projected to essentially double in size to 48,540 by 2037.
Boeing has racked up several deals at Farnborough, with the Russian airline Volga Dnepr committing to buy Boeing freighters worth $11.8 billion at list prices, and US leasing company Air Lease Corp. saying it would buy as many as 78 Boeing aircraft worth $9.6 billion.
Rival plane maker Airbus won a provisional deal for 100 single-aisle A320 family jets, worth about $11.5 billion at list prices, for an unidentified customer.