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Boeing Raises Chinese Aircraft Demand Forecast

Boeing expects China to need more than 6,020 aircraft in the next 20 years, an 8 percent rise over last year's two-decade estimate, as growing overseas leisure travel drives demand.

The aircraft maker's new estimate, valued at USD$870 billion, is up from the 5,580 it estimated last year and represents a near tripling of China's current fleet. The country, the world's second-biggest aircraft market, is essential to Boeing's long-term global strategy.

"New business models like low-cost carrier, regional carriers are driving demand for more direct flights to more destinations," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing commercial planes.

Boeing expects China to overtake the United States as the world's single-biggest aircraft market in the period to 2032.

Chinese airlines are increasingly training their sights on overseas routes as the domestic market cools amid a slowing economy and government budget austerity.

Besides intensifying its coverage of Asian countries, Air China alone has opened three new routes to the United States since July 2013, including a three-times weekly service to Honolulu. The last time it launched new flights to the United States was in the early 1980s.

China Southern Airlines, the largest carrier on China-Australia routes, started flying non-stop to New York last month. Even budget carrier Spring Airlines, which flies mostly domestic and some Asian routes on its Airbus A320s, has been weighing an option to buy wide-body Airbus A330s.