Boeing lifts China plane demand outlook as economy picks up

©Agence France-Presse

Boeing says China's recovery from the virus and rapidly growing middle class and surging economy will help drive demand for new planes

Beijing (AFP) - Plane-making giant Boeing said Thursday it expects China to buy more than 8,600 new aeroplanes worth $1.4 trillion in the next two decades, increasing its forecast as the country recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.

The world aviation industry has been shattered by the virus, but China has largely brought it under control and while international flights are limited, the country's domestic market has almost bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. 

And the US firm said China will be the main driver in aviation growth globally over the next 20 years, based on a "robust recovery" from the disease, a rapidly growing middle class, urbanisation and economic expansion.

Boeing predicted annual passenger traffic in China will rise 5.5 percent in that time, with the country having accounted for around a quarter of all aviation growth worldwide in the past decade.

Last year's 20-year forecast had estimated China would need 8,090 planes worth $1.3 trillion.

It has been a difficult year for Boeing, which reported another quarterly loss in October, and said it will look to cut its workforce to 130,000 by the end of 2021, from 160,000 before the disease hit.

Boeing's best-selling jet, the 737 MAX airliner, is undergoing a lengthy recertification process with regulators worldwide following crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people and led to it being pulled from service early last year.

China was the first to ban the airliner after the deadly accidents.