Dubai: American plane manufacturer Boeing said on Sunday it remains “well positioned” in the aviation market even as it faces setbacks on three key models; the 737 Max, the 777X, and the 787.
With Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft now all grounded across the world after two fatal crashes involving the model, the company is also facing delays with the launch of its 777X model due to setbacks with the engine manufacturer.
On top of that, Boeing said last month it will cut production of its 787 aircraft due to weaker demand on the back of the trade war between the US and China.
Randy Tinseth, vice-president of commercial marketing at Boeing, said at a press conference at the Dubai Air Show that despite the challenges, the three aircraft models “are all in leading market positions.”
“The 787 — the competitor isn’t even close … I think we’re well-positioned,” he said.
“I know we did the right thing in terms of [production] rates on the 787. I mean, with the uncertainties we see in some of the markets, especially in China, I think we did the right thing to cut back in rate.”
Tinseth said he that over time, he expected to see a trade agreement between the US and China, which would help demand pick back up. Boeing plans to raise its production rates on the model in two years’ time. “We do expect over time for an agreement in terms of reducing or eliminating the tariffs between the United States and China will come to pass. We’re optimistic that it will happen,” he said.
He also reiterated condolences from Boeing to the families of the victims who died at crashes involving the 737 Max model, and said the company is working hard to improve the model and ensure its safe return to the skies.
Tinseth’s comments came at a briefing to discuss Boeing’s outlook for the commercial aircraft market. He said that while 2019 has been challenging, the market for passenger jets remains “solid”. Trade disputes, however, have taken a toll on the cargo market, which is expected to have shrunk by the end of this year, he added.
Still, over the next 20 years, Boeing projects growth in the industry. In the Middle East alone, while growth has slowed down lately, fundamentals of the market are still strong, Boeing said, as it expects demand of 3,100 aircraft, with a total value of $725 billion in the next 20 years. Of those aircraft, 72 per cent will be wide-bodies.
The forecast is not dissimilar from that of Airbus, which on Sunday said it projects demand for 3,240 passenger and freight aircraft over the next 20 years.
In terms of passenger traffic, both Boeing and Airbus expect the growth rates in the Middle East to exceed the global average. Boeing said it forecasts a 5.1 per cent growth rate between 2019 and 2038, while Airbus put its projection at 5.6 per cent.
The two manufacturers also expect to see strong demand for personnel in the aviation industry, with Boeing projecting a need for over 200,000 professionals — of whom, 64,000 are pilots and 102,000 are cabin crew.