Surge in air travel to lift Boeing sales
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing expects the air travel market in Australia and the rest of Oceania to more than double in the next 20 years, spurred in part by demand for flights from the region to China.
Boeing is forecasting the region's traffic to rise at 4.8 per cent per annum over the next two decades, almost double the pace of likely economic growth.
That translates into expected demand from airlines in Oceania - comprising Australia, New Zeal and the Pacific islands - for more than 1000 aircraft valued at $US140 billion. Qantas is the largest airline in Oceania.
About 70 per cent of the planes expected to be pressed into service over the next two decades will be to meet growth in demand for air travel.
The remainder are replacement aircraft for airlines.
Boeing's vice-president of marketing, Randy Tinseth, said the likely growth in Oceania was relatively consistent with what the manufacturer expected in other developed economies.
But he emphasised that one of the fastest-growing markets had been for flights between Oceania and China due to a boom in tourists.
"This market will more than double over the next 20 years," he said.
The vast majority of demand from airlines in the region is for single-aisle planes such as the 737, which are flown on short to medium-haul routes.
Over the past three years traffic worldwide has been growing faster than capacity, which is welcome news for aircraft manufacturers.
Boeing has sped up production rates and delivered 476 commercial planes in the first eight months of this year - the same number as it handed to airlines all year in 2011.
On Monday (Australia time) in Seattle Jetstar is to take the keys to the first of 14 Dreamliners it has on order with Boeing.
The 787-8 plane will be flown within Australia until November, when it will be pressed into service on international routes to destinations in Asia.
Boeing has an operational centre dedicated to tracking the worldwide fleet of 787s 24 hours a day.
At present there are 91 Dreamliners in service around the world for airlines including United Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
"So far the airplane has been flying pretty clean," Boeing vice-president of 787 services and support Mike Fleming said of Jetstar's first 787.
Jetstar will be the second budget airline to take delivery of the new aircraft type, which Boeing estimates is about 20 per cent more fuel efficient than older planes such as its 767 or Airbus A330s.
The reporter travelled to Seattle courtesy of Jetstar.