China will likely need 5,000 commercial aircraft worth $600 billion during the next 20 years, a senior Boeing Co executive said on Wednesday, a 25 percent increase in value terms over the company's previous forecast late last year.
A significant portion of that demand will be small and intermediate-sized jets, Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told reporters in Beijing.
Last November, Tinseth estimated China would need 4,330 new planes worth $480 billion, effectively tripling its fleet size over the next 20 years.
Boeing is betting that new Chinese wealth and government spending on infrastructure will bolster travel in the country, where the domestic passenger traffic is growing rapidly.
Tinseth has said the U.S. aircraft maker expects to maintain its market share in China.
Boeing competes with Airbus for commercial plane orders, and Tinseth said that overall Boeing would deliver 485 to 495 airplanes this year, including 25-30 787s Dreamliners and 747-8s.
Boeing is about three years behind schedule in delivering the light-weight, carbon-composite 787, which promises hefty fuel savings to airlines, due largely to snags in the complex global supply chain.
When asked about the delays, Tinseth said: "We have a plan. We are meeting that plan, and we are committed to that plan. Are there risks? There are always risks. I believe we have turned a corner in terms of production and in terms of design of the airplane."
All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. will be the first to take delivery of 787 on Sept. 25 and expects to have 20 Dreamliners by March 2013.
ANA President Shinichiro Ito told Reuters on Wednesday that ANA expects to receive all 55 Dreamliner jets it has ordered by March 2018.
"We were in big trouble because we had to push back our business plans (due to delays with the Dreamliner), Ito said in an interview with Reuters in Japan. "I'm so excited to finally be receiving it."
Competition in the sector is heating up.
State-backed Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) is developing its own commercial jet C919, which Beijing hopes can eventually compete with Boeing and Airbus.
COMAC said it expects the C919 to have its first test flight in 2014 with deliveries to customers starting in 2016.
At the Paris airshow in June, Ryanair , which currently flies only Boeing jets, signed a deal with COMAC to help it design a rival to the Boeing's 737.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said he expected Chinese manufacturers to take a significant bite out the global market for short-haul planes by 2016.
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