(Corrects COMAC’s C919 orders to 570 from 517)
By Brenda Goh
ZHUHAI, China, Nov 1 (Reuters) - State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) on Tuesday forecast the global airline industry will need almost 40,000 new planes worth $5.23 trillion over the next 20 years, with Chinese buyers taking almost a fifth of that.
In a market outlook published at the country’s biggest airshow in Zhuhai, southern China, the aircraft maker said it expected the industry to deliver 39,948 new planes over 2016-2035 on the back of 4.45 percent annual growth in revenue per kilometre flown by passengers, a standard industry measure.
COMAC’s forecast assumes the global economy maintains an average annual growth rate of 3 percent.
The Chinese market - expected to see annual passenger traffic growth of 6.1 percent over 2016-2035 - will need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the period, with passenger revenue from China to account for 18 percent of global revenue by 2035, COMAC said.
Earlier on Tuesday, COMAC said it had clinched 23 new firm orders for its long-delayed C919 passenger jet, from two Chinese leasing firms who also took out options to buy 33 more. COMAC said it has now received a total of 570 orders for C919s, mainly from Chinese lessors.
The Shanghai-based company is eager to challenge dominant plane makers Airbus Group and Boeing Co in the lucrative narrow-body jet market, but has yet to send its C919 jet out on its first flight. The C919 is now scheduled to reach its first buyers in 2018 after a series of production delays pushed deliveries back four years.
COMAC said separately on Tuesday that China Eastern Airlines will be the launch customer for the C919, which may take its first test flight later this year or early 2017.
The plane maker is also behind China’s first locally built regional jet, the ARJ-21, which entered service with Chengdu Airlines in January after being more than 10 years behind schedule. The market for regional jets is currently dominated by Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier, who currently dominate the market.
Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell