BEIJING (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N) said it expects China to need more than 5,500 aircraft in the next 20 years, a six percent increase over last year's two-decade estimate, citing growing demand for single-aisle and small wide body planes as travel within Asia-Pacifc surges.
China, currently the world's second-biggest aircraft market, is key to Boeing's long-term global strategy and the company said its estimate of 5,580 planes valued at $780 billion represents a tripling of China's fleet.
"Tourism in China and intra-Asia travel will help spur demand," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, adding that China will overtake the United States as the world's single-biggest aircraft market in the period through 2032.
"We expect international markets to grow faster than domestic markets and we anticipate the Chinese airlines to grow market share over time."
Boeing said air traffic in China is projected to grow 7 percent per year, fueled by 7.2 percent annual growth of long-haul traffic to and from China, outpacing anticipated global annual growth of 5 percent.
It expects that world traffic carried by airlines in China will grow to 16 percent by the end of the forecast period, up from 11 percent currently and four percent 20 years ago.
Tinseth also said he expects total China deliveries for single-aisle airplanes to reach 3,900 during the period.
In June, Boeing raised its 20-year forecast for global airplane demand, up 3.8 percent from its previous two-decade outlook, citing growth in Asia-Pacific travel.
Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller; Editing by Edwina Gibbs