DOHA: Boeing anticipates global demand to see about 4 percent annual growth year over year for the next two decades, expecting to be back to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, said Omar Arekat, the company’s Middle East and Africa VP of commercial sales and marketing. He added that the growth for the Middle East would be slightly above that at 4.2 percent year over year.
During the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association, Arekat told Arab News that the market is growing, and there is a demand for roughly 3,000 cargo and freighters in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
“We see that there is a recovery coming and our market is a very resilient market,” he added.
Despite a recovery, Boeing is still not quite at pre-pandemic levels, Arekat said. “We are seeing the recovery move much quicker than anticipated, especially on the regional and domestic fronts,” he informed.
Airlines returned to almost 100 percent of their operational capacity for regional and domestic travel, Arekat said. Internationally, it is growing, but it isn’t completely there yet, he added.
Based on peak season base, Boeing is 70 to 75 percent behind 2019, Arekat said.
He believed that the GCC is doing better than the rest of the world in terms of recovery. There has been strong growth in intra-regional travel, and international travel is increasing quickly, he said. “So we anticipate that we would see a recovery to 2019 levels by the year 2024,” Arekat added.
According to Arekat, the GCC region and the Middle East are important markets for Boeing.
Boeing and Qatar Airways signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year for the purchase of up to 50 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, he said, adding that by 2024, the aircraft will begin being delivered.
“Qatar Airways announced a MoU for the purchase of 25 Boeing 737 Max with an option for another 25,” he said.
Arekat informed that Qatar Airways was the launch customer for 777-8 Freighter with a firm order for 34 jets earlier this year.
Boeing is currently working with Saudi Arabia on different opportunities. “The Saudi market has a lot of potential for growth,” he added.
Being a pioneer in sustainability, Boeing also plans to add the Boeing 777-200 to the sustainability program in 2023, he said. The company also has the Boeing 737 Max, which runs on sustainable fuel, and Etihad’s Boeing 787, the Greenliner. Boeing has been investing continuously in expanding its fuel-testing platform and leads the way in that area, he concluded.
“It’s in early stages right now and the demand will grow but the focus right now is on making sure that it’s affordable, and it’s available and produced widely,” he said.