Travel surge to lift Boeing sales
US plane manufacturer Boeing expects the air travel market in Australia and the rest of Oceania to more than double over the next 20 years, spurred on 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 a year 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 Zealand the Pacific islands - for just over 1000 aircraft valued at $US140 billion ($148 billion). Qantas is the largest airline in Oceania.
About 70 per cent of those 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 plane 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.
"What that means, then, is demand for about 1000 airplanes. It is a huge market valued at $US140 billion [$148 billion]," he said. "This market will more than double over the next 20 years."
The majority of demand from airlines in the region is for single-aisle planes such as the 737, flown on short- to medium-haul routes.
Over the past three years, traffic growth worldwide has been rising faster than capacity, which has been welcome news for plane manufacturers.
Boeing has sped up production rates, and delivered 476 commercial planes in the first eight months of this year - the same number it handed over to airlines in the entire year in 2011.
Jetstar is set to officially take the keys on Monday in Seattle to the first of 14 Dreamliners it has on order with Boeing.
The 787-8 plane will be flown within Australia until next month, 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's 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 plane 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.