Page last updated at 23:50 GMT, Wednesday, 13 June 2007 00:50 UK

Boeing sales forecast takes off

Computer generated image of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner
The 787 Dreamliner is expected next year

Boeing has predicted rising demand from carriers for smaller aircraft but large jumbo jet sales will be lower than expected over the next 20 years.

It raised its projected sales of commercial jets by all manufacturers by $200bn to $2.8 trillion (1.4 trillion) in the next two decades.

Regional, single-aisle and twin-aisle jets for non-stop routes would prove more popular than expected, it said.

It also scaled down the forecast for jumbos carrying more than 400 people.

Boeing now expects that the market will buy 960 of the bigger craft, down from the 990 it set out in last year's forecast.

'Continued trend'

Airlines needed to respond to the true needs of passengers, said Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice-president of marketing.

"Airlines have accommodated air travel by adding more frequencies and non-stop's, and what's most important for us is that we've seen this trend for the last 20 to 25 years, and we expect this trend to continue into the future," he said.

17,650 single-aisle airplanes seating 90 to 240 passengers
6,290 twin-aisle jets seating 200 to 400 passengers
-3,700 regional jets with no more than 90 seats, up from 3,450 forecast last year
960 jumbo jets seating more than 400 passengers

Passenger numbers would rise about 5% a year while cargo traffic would increase 6.1%, Boeing said.

Emerging markets are crucial for future sales, Boeing said, with about one-third of the demand coming from the Asia-Pacific region.

It sees flexibility as the key to success in the aviation market. It is banking on its smaller, slimmer 787 plane.

It predicts the plane, due to come into service next year, will steal a march on Airbus.

Twin-engined but with a long range, it will be able to fly direct to far more of the world's airports.

That means passengers will not need to make a connecting flight first to travel long distance.

Airbus is thought to be about five years from releasing its medium-sized rival, the A350 XWB.

But Boeing expects less demand for jumbos than Airbus, which has invested heavily in its 555-seat A380 superjumbo, due to start commercial service from October.

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