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Strong aviation sector growth forecast
By Cao Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-21 05:52

The Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing Company predicts China will need 2,600 new airplanes worth US$ 213 billion over the next two decades, because of strong flight growth.

With the continued high rate of growth in the nation's air travel and air cargo markets, Chinese airlines' fleets will nearly quadruple to more than 3,200 airplanes by the end of the forecast period, according to the 2005 Current Market Outlook for China released by the US firm yesterday.

"China is the fastest growing market in the world," said Randy Baseler, Boeing's vice-president of marketing, at a press conference in Beijing yesterday.

He added China is also expected to remain the largest market outside the United States for new commercial airplanes.

China's needs are best served by smaller planes serving more frequent routes and more cities rather than the bigger jets offered by its European rival Airbus, according to Boeing's forecasts.

"The high demand for single-aisle airplanes will be driven by an increasing affluence among the Chinese people and an increased desire to travel within China and to neighbouring countries," Baseler said.

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

Both the Airbus and Chinese airplane maker AVIC I Commercial Aircraft Co Ltd refused to comment on Boeing's forecast. Sources from Airbus' office in Beijing said they are confident about China's aviation market.

AVIC I is also expected to unveil its forecast on the nation's aviation market tomorrow. Insiders from the company said there will be some disparities between their prediction and Boeing's.

On Monday, Hainan Airlines signed a contract with Boeing for the purchase of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which makes the number of Boeing 787s ordered by five different Chinese carriers total 50.

Introducing B787 aircraft to the current B737 fleet is a strategic plan for the airline to become a world famous carrier, said Chen Feng, president of Hainan Airlines China's fourth largest airline company.

The deal is the last stage in an agreement signed in January in which six Chinese airlines pledged to buy a total of 60 of the planes worth US$7.2 billion.

According to the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, the industry regulator, China plans to introduce 147 new aircraft this year.

(China Daily 09/21/2005 page2)

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