Boeing said China, the world's second-largest economy but the largest aircraft market, would likely need 8,700 new airplanes over the next two decades, a figure that translates to overall sales of around $1.47 trillion. A further $1.8 trillion will likely be needed to service both its existing and future fleet additions over the next 20 years, Boeing said.
“The rapid recovery of Chinese domestic traffic during the pandemic speaks to the market’s underlying strength and resilience,” said Boeing's Richard Wynne. “In addition, there are promising opportunities to significantly expand international long-haul routes and air freight capacity. Longer term, there is the potential for low-cost carrier growth to further build on single-aisle demand.”
Boeing shares were marked 0.9% higher in early trading Thursday to change hands at $218.80 each.
Earlier this month, Boeing published its 2021 Market Outlook, its annual analysis of long-term market dynamics, that forecast overall demand for around 43,610 over the next two decades, a figure that represents around $7.2 trillion in value but is down from its 2019 forecast of 44,040.
The first order of business for the planemaker, however, will be to convince China's Civil Aviation Administration to recertify the 737 MAX, which was grounded in March of 2019 following following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Last month, reports suggested a 737 MAX jet took off from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport and landed in Zhoushan, the site of a Boeing factory designed to install plane interiors, as part of a late-stage test that could signal a near-term return to service.
"Going forward, the pace of the commercial market recovery, trade relations with China, production rates, and our own performance, our execution will be key factors of our overall employment levels," CEO Dave Calhoun told investors in late July after the planemaker's second quarter earnings.
"Regulatory approvals will shape our delivery plans and our production ramp -- our rate ramp. We continue to work with global regulators and still anticipate that the remaining regulatory approvals will occur this year, including China," he added. "And as always, we will follow global regulators' lead in the steps ahead.
Boeing posted its first profit in more than two years over the second quarter, thanks in part to the post-pandemic rebound in commercial aviation and an accelerating coronavirus vaccine rate.
Boeing also noted that its current order backlog edged lower on the quarter, to $363 billion, adding that the commercial airlines portion of the tally rose to $285 billion thanks to 180 net new orders.