Although Boeing expects the Asia-Pacific market to become the fifth-largest in terms of traffic flow by 2040, the region in the nearer term will likely see its recovery experience stronger “headwinds” than other regions due to factors such as continuing Covid restrictions on international connections in Hong Kong and China, Boeing v-p of commercial marketing Darren Hulst said during a Singapore Airshow briefing on Wednesday.
While Hulst predicted that the airline industry will fully recover from the Covid pandemic by either the end of 2023 or in 2024, some regions will reach 2019 traffic levels sooner than others. Asia will likely be one of the laggards.
Of course, regions within Asia will see different growth rates. Southeast Asia, for example, will see its position as the tenth-largest region in terms of traffic flow in 2019 drop to the world’s fifth-largest in 2040, generating demand for 4,415 aircraft deliveries. In fact, Southeast Asia has seen a steady recovery in the last six months, as capacity and traffic each increased by 60 percent last year compared with their nadir in 2020.
The Asia-Pacific region can thank robust cargo growth rates for the level of recovery it has seen as 2021 wore on, and Hulst cited statistics showing that freighter traffic from the region has tripled in the last two years. He did concede that cargo growth rates cannot continue on their current trajectory later into the decade, but still, structural changes to the industry resulting from the Covid pandemic over the past two years will remain. “I don’t think the industry will ever reset to where it was [before the pandemic],” he asserted.
According to Boeing’s latest Commercial Market Outlook, air travel within Asia-Pacific markets will account for nearly half of global air traffic by 2040, driving demand over that period for 17,645 new airplanes worth $3.1 trillion.