Planemakers shrug off economy worries as travel demand grows

Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:04pm EDT
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By Sarah Young and Conor Humphries

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) and Boeing (BA.N: Quote) raised their long-term forecasts for new aircraft demand on Monday, betting that rising wealth in Asia would continue to boost air travel and offset any short-term hits to the global economy.

The world's two biggest planemakers also announced a flurry of multi-billion dollar jet deals at the biennial Farnborough Airshow, which opened on Monday 45 miles (72 km) southwest of London.

Airbus and Boeing have enjoyed years of strong sales, with rising air travel and demand for new fuel-efficient planes raising the industry's order backlog to a record 13,500 planes at the end of 2015, or near 10 years of production at current rates.

Some analysts have cautioned that economic risks from slowing growth in China to Britain's decision to leave the European Union could see orders start to dry up or be canceled, particularly for larger twin-aisle jets.

The planemakers remain bullish, however.

Boeing forecast airlines will need 39,620 new aircraft worth $5.9 trillion over the next 20 years, up 4.1 percent from its estimate last year.

"Despite recent events that have impacted the financial markets, the aviation sector will continue to see long-term growth with the commercial fleet doubling in size," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing forecast airline passenger traffic would increase by 4.8 percent per year over the next two decades.   Continued...

Airbus and Virgin logos are pictured on engines during the delivery of the first series-production LEAP-1A propulsion systems by Aircelle for the A320neo aircraft Airbus family in Colomiers near Toulouse, Southwestern France, April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau