Boeing does not expect a return in long-haul travel from the Covid crisis until at least 2024.
Demand for domestic air travel is leading the recovery, with intra-regional markets expected to follow as health and travel restrictions ease.
This will be followed by long-haul travel’s return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 to 2024.
The availability and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be critical factors in the near-term recovery of passenger air travel.
Boeing said: “Countries with more widespread vaccination distribution have shown rapid air travel recovery, as governments ease domestic restrictions and open borders to international travel.”
Passenger traffic growth is projected to increase by an average of 4% a year, unchanged from 2020’s forecast.
The projections come from a new commercial market outlook from the US aircraft manufacturer, reflecting that the global market is recovering largely as Boeing projected in 2020.
The market outlook forecasts ten-year global demand for 19,000 commercial aircraft valued at $3.2 trillion.
Boeing’s 20-year commercial forecast through to 2040 projects demand for more than 43,500 new aircraft valued at $7.2 trillion, an increase of about 500 over last year’s forecast made during the pandemic.
The global commercial fleet will surpass 49,000 aircraft by 2040, with China, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific countries each accounting for about 20% of new deliveries, and the remaining 20% going to other emerging markets.
Demand for more than 32,500 new single-aisle aircraft is about equal to the pre-pandemic outlook. These models continue to command 75% of deliveries in the 20-year forecast.
Carriers will need more than 7,500 new widebody aircraft by 2040 to support fleet renewal and long-term passenger and air cargo demand growth in longer-haul markets.
These projections are up slightly compared to 2020 but remain down 8% from 2019, according to the company.
Boeing chief strategy officer Marc Allen said:”As our industry recovers and continues to adapt to meet new global needs, we remain confident in long-term growth for aerospace.
“We are encouraged by the fact that scientists have delivered vaccines more rapidly than imaginable and that passengers are demonstrating strong confidence in airplane travel.”
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Stan Deal added: “The aerospace industry has made important progress in the recovery, and Boeing’s 2021 forecast reflects our confidence in the resilience of the market.
“While we remain realistic about ongoing challenges, the past year has shown that passenger traffic rebounds swiftly when the flying public and governments have confidence in health and safety during air travel.
“Our industry continues to serve an essential role of bringing people together and transporting critical supplies.”