A total of 26 676 large commercial airliners will be produced during the 15-year time period from 2015 through 2029 in production worth an estimated $4.23 trillion, according to Forecast International.
According to the company’s projections, Airbus and Boeing will together account for nearly 95 percent of this production. This level of dominance means that the large jetliner market will essentially remain a duopoly during the 15-year timeframe, despite some small inroads into the narrowbody segment by companies such as Canada’s Bombardier, China’s COMAC, and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
The competition between Airbus and Boeing is expected to be close and, indeed, is unusually fierce for dominant manufacturers in a duopolistic market situation. Boeing is forecast to produce 12 594 large airliners during the forecast period, representing 47.2 percent of the market. Airbus is expected to build 12 542 aircraft, a market share of 47 percent, according to Forecast International.
As for the other manufacturers in the market, UAC is projected to build 693 aircraft for a market share of 2.6 percent. UAC production will mostly consist of the new MC-21 narrowbody airliner, but will also include a handful of Il-96s and Tu-204s. Bombardier is expected to produce 540 CS300s, a market share of 2 percent, while COMAC is forecast to build 307 C919s, a share of 1.2 percent.
Forecast International projects that, on a year-to-year basis, production of large commercial jetliners will rise from 2015 through 2020. Annual production is forecast to increase from 1 399 aircraft in 2015 to 1 845 in 2020. A minor cyclical downturn is expected in the 2021-2022 timeframe, with output falling to 1 727 aircraft in 2021 and 1 680 in 2022. However, annual production is projected to resume rising in 2023, and continue increasing through most of the remaining forecast period.
Airbus and Boeing have largely set out the outlines of their respective product strategies for the next 15 years. Each has embarked on a complete overhaul of its product line, including development of re-engined versions of their current narrowbody families as well as the introduction of new and upgraded widebody models. Meanwhile, Airbus and Boeing have accumulated large order backlogs that represent eight to nine years’ worth of production at current build rates.
“The huge order backlogs afford Airbus and Boeing considerable flexibility as they strive to adapt to changing market conditions, and provide the two companies with a big margin of error,” said Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski. “The sheer size of the backlogs enables the two manufacturers to raise production rates of fast-selling models while simultaneously overbooking orders and swapping delivery slots as needed among customers.”
In terms of product strategy, the two manufacturers may yet have a countermove or two up their sleeves. Airbus could opt to respond to Boeing’s new 777-9X by increasing the seating density of the A350-1000 or even stretching the -1000 into a new variant. In the middle of the market, Boeing could decide to respond to the Airbus A321LR, a long-range version of the A321neo, with either a long-range version of the 737 MAX 8 or perhaps an all-new aircraft. And, by the end of the forecast period, both Airbus and Boeing will likely be well into development of all-new narrowbody airliners to replace the A320neo and 737 MAX families, respectively, Forecast International said.