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Boeing sees China buying 2,600 jets
Updated: 2005-09-20 15:10

Aersopace giant Boeing Co. expects China will buy 2,600 commercial jet aircraft over the next two decades, underpinned by strong growth in domestic flights, company executives said on Tuesday.

That would quadruple China's fleet to more than 3,200 jets at an estimated cost of $213 billion at 2004 prices, Randy Baseler, Boeing's vice president of marketing for commercial aircraft, told reporters.

The Chicago-based company is betting that airlines, freed from regulations that encouraged the traditional hub-and-spoke system, are going to be buying smaller jets to provide direct flights between smaller cities.

It thinks China will buy nearly 1,700 narrowbody planes, such as its 737 models or the A320 family made by European rival Airbus SAS. Airbus is controlled by European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. N.V., based in Germany and France.

"This market is going to continue to develop with more frequency and non-stops, not bigger airplanes," Baseler said, in a dig at Airbus's upcoming A380 superjumbo.

Boeing expects China's domestic passenger market to grow at an average annual rate of 8.8 percent over the next 20 years, while the cargo business would grow at a rate of 10 percent, Baseler said.

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