As domestic and international tourism grows in China, airlines are aggressively expanding to keep up with demand. Boeing said Tuesday that over the next 20 years, China will require 7,690 new planes worth $1.2 trillion, increasing the country’s share of the world’s commercial aircraft to 18 percent by 2037. The forecast for new planes increased 6 percent from that of a year earlier.
Of course, Boeing will face competition from Airbus in selling those planes to Chinese companies. There is also a push for domestically-produced aircraft as part of Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” initiative that could take a slice of the market from both manufacturers. Last year, Boeing and Airbus delivered 202 and 176 aircraft, respectively, to Chinese airlines. State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (Comac) said that is has received more than 800 domestic orders, though the first of its narrowbody C919 planes won’t be delivered until 2021.
State-owned Comac may account for a significant share of the market when it begins delivery of its narrowbody aircraft
Boeing’s competitiveness may also be hindered by Trump’s trade war with China, though the company is still optimistic based on orders that it has already received. The company has thus far been spared from China’s tariffs, but could enter the crosshairs if the White House pushes through with more tariffs on Chinese goods. The country accounted for 13 percent of Boeing’s revenue last year, according to Bloomberg.
Boeing forecast that among the 7,690 planes needed, 5,730 are single-aisle planes and 1620 widebody aircraft. The additional widebody aircraft would triple the size of China’s current fleet. In addition to the new aircraft required, Boeing noted that China will need 128,500 pilots by 2037, Simple Flying reported.
Chinese outbound travel habits will also change the aviation landscape. As more Chinese travelers seek adventure and off-the-beaten-path destinations, airlines outside China see a need for smaller aircraft to handle the increase in tourists. Turboprop manufacturer ATR sees this travel trend as an opportunity for its 50-seat turboprop planes, according to Business World. Many of the destinations requiring smaller planes are in Southeast Asia. The company is also looking into opening a pilot training center in China.
It’s not just travel that is driving demand for new aircraft, however. As the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market, China will require more freight aircraft in the coming years. China News reported that the country would require 200 new freighters and 470 modified freighters to meet demand.