Aircraft demand: Comparing the Big Four OEMs

(Note: The Market Outlook information was released July 3; this piece contains information that was embargoed to July 5.)

Boeing updated its 20 year forecast, from 2012-2031, upping the total market demand about 600 airplanes.

In its annual release just before a major international air show, in this case Farnborough, Randy Tinseth, VP Marketing, said the latest numbers forecast a requirement of 34,000 through 2031 with a value of $4.5 trillion.

This breaks down:

Boeing Current Market Outlook, 2012-2031



Value ($ Billions)/Share

Very Large Aircraft (>400 seats)



Twin Aisle (201-400 seats)



Single Aisle (91-200 seats)



Regional Jets (70-90 seats)



This is more optimistic than the 20 year forecast by Airbus. The most recent Airbus forecast—2011-2030—forecast only 26,921 aircraft, more than 7,000 fewer than Boeing—but Airbus does not forecast regional jets nor below 100 seats.

The breakdown between categories is markedly different as well in unit number though not that much different in unit share. Value percentages are reasonably close in twin- and single-aisles, though vastly different in VLAs.

Airbus Global Market Forecast, 2011-2030



Value ($ Billions)/Share

Very Large Aircraft (>400 seats)



Twin Aisle (211-400 seats)



Single Aisle (100-210 seats)



Regional Jets (70-90 seats)



To try and get a little more apples-to-apples, we followed up with Boeing during and after the pre-Farnborough Air Show briefings. Because Boeing uses a category of 91-200 seats and Airbus 100-210 seats, we can’t get precisely “apples” comparisons. However, Boeing’s Tinseth told us that 90% of its single aisle forecast is “addressable” by the 737 MAX. This is 20,916 (Tinseth rounded to 21,000)—still somewhat higher than Airbus’ nearly equivalent 19,165. The mathematically indicates that there is a 20 year market for the 2,324 90-100 seat aircraft.

Subtract this figure and Boeing’s RJ figure (4,344) from Boeing total forecast of 34,000 and this is 29,606, about 10% more than the Airbus forecast.

Airbus further breaks down its forecast, which Boeing doesn’t do. Airbus forecasts 4,518 small twin aisle and 1,907 large twin aisle aircraft. Airbus further forecasts the single-aisle market: 1,735 100-125; 3,380 125-150; 6,429 150-175; and 2,864 175-210.

The 5,115 100-150 seat segment compares with 6,900 in the new Bombardier forecast released in May and 4,125 in the 90-125 seat segment forecast by Embraer in 2011.

Tinseth, at Boeing’s air show briefing, characterized the Embraer number as “in the ballpark” but “overly optimistic.” Beverly Wyse, VP and GM of the 737 program for Boeing, predicted that the 737-700/7 MAX would account for 10%-15% of the future 737 backlog. Considering the historical duopoly, Airbus should have about the same. It should be noted that Boeing’s current 737-700 backlog is about 11% of total backlog but the A319 backlog represents only about 5% of the total.

Thus, the math suggests that Boeing puts its share of the 100-150 seat market potential over 20 years at 2,092-3,137. Combined with Airbus, on the basis of a 50-50 duopoly, the market range could be 4,184-6,275, bracketing the Airbus forecast and somewhat below the Bombardier forecast at the top end.

Wyse also said that the 737-800 represents 75%-80% of Boeing’s 737 sales, which suggests Boeing’s share would be around 7,800-8,400 units over the next 20 years. The -900ER represents the remaining portion.

All these figures are before market fragmentation from new entrants and Embraer’s E-190/195 at the lowest end of the 100-210 seat market.

Breaking down the market segments into fine detail is important because Bombardier’s CSeries, at 110-145 seats in a mainline jet design, is a direct challenge Airbus and Boeing in the 100-150 seat segment. Boeing’s Tinseth previously sought to downplay Bombardier’s forecast, characterizing the segment demand as just “a few thousand.”

At Bombardier’s Media Day in May, we asked Mairead Lavery, Vice President, Strategy and Business Development and head of forecasting, why the Bombardier forecast was so much higher than the Airbus and Embraer numbers and Tinseth’s ambiguous figure.

“None of the forecasts, except for Airbus, are on the same basis, so you get those disparities,” Lavery said. “We would argue that we have a lot experience in the regional jet market space and we have been in the 100-149 seat market segment. Therefore we feel we are better placed to take some of those variables into our existing customers and use them to prepare our market forecast. As to whether they are different, it is different views of the market space. It’s not an area where Boeing and Airbus have focused on, this market space, necessarily.”

By combining Tinseth’s and Wyse’s information, we narrowed down the Boeing figure, which at the low end is substantially less than Bombardier’s forecast and at the high end is only somewhat lower.

17 Comments on “Aircraft demand: Comparing the Big Four OEMs

  1. I think honestly that the A319/737-700 products are dead. There is a large number of attractive A319s available on the second hand market at low prices that airlines like Allegiant might use opportunistically. But I don’t see airlines buying a lot of new models.

    The big question is whether the CSeries will move in,or whether the whole category is no longer viable.

    • We believe the 100-149 seat market is viable, and even Airbus and Boeing see a demand, as the details above indicate.

      • What I am going on is these stats. Just 11 A319s have been sold since the start of last year (5 if you include cancellations). During the same period, Airbus sold 1287 A320s and 239 A321s.

        Perhaps the article isn’t accurate in the distribution that will actually be built. The same thing, however, is happening for deliveries, after an expected lag due to the backlog . These are deliveries of A319s as a percentage of all A320 family deliveries, going back over the past ten years. The trend is unmistakeable: 8% 11% 13% 20% 27% 29% 40% 49% 37% 31%

        Finally, the availability of good quality, good value A319s on the secondhand market can’t be helping sales of new aircraft?

      • Yes sales of the A319 and to a lesser extent the 737-700 are a small proportion of the total Airbus and Boeing sales. But these models cost almost as much to fly as the next model up, causing seat mile costs to be higher.

        A model that was optimum near the 130 seat mark for a 3 hour mission length would probably do very well.

    • I agree 100%! CSeries is the right product going forward. A and B will be outsold in that segment.

    • I don’t think sales or backlog of the A319 or 737-700 is relavent because most will be converted to something else. The only thing that matters is the rate of deliveries and that is slowing quickly. Current 737-700 deliveries are 3 in six months. Looks like one of those was Gecas last one on order. The last -700 for Southwest probably flew away last December under the radar.

  2. I somewhat agree, if the A-737-700/A-319 market is about 10% of the NB market, that accounts for only about 350-550 new airplanes over 20 years, or about (up to) 27.5 per year. That is almost nothing for the big two OEMs. Even with a 50%-50% split of that 150 seat airplane market, that doesn’t even pay for the engineering work for the MAX and NEO versions of the two airplanes (assuming they don’t share developement costs of their sister airplanes in their respective families).

    So, the airplane sales predictions, from anyone is nothing more than gazing into a chrystal ball.

    I wonder how close any OEM’s predictions are for the 1990-2010 time frame?

      • Boeing sees its share as 10%-15% over 20 years. Airbus should have roughly an equal share.

        10% + 10% = 4,000
        15% + 15% = 6,000

        Airbus 20 year forecast is >5,000
        BBD 20 year forecast is 6,900
        EMB 20 year forecast for 90-125 is 4,125

        Everybody got it now?

  3. Same thing with Boeing, I think. 7% of 737s sold in the last two years have been 700s. 4 out of the 7% come from Southwest, who I understand are switching to 800 purchases. What’s special about the Max that will bring 3% back up to 10-15% again? I am having trouble believing them.

  4. I promise not to continue buying up the discussion after this post!

    The challenge, as I see it, for the CSeries is that airlines are quite happy to put bigger aircraft on routes they used to fly with A319s and 737-700s. This means the CSeries is not competing with the A319 and 737-700. Those products are going the way of the dodo. Instead the CSeries is going head to head with the A320 and 737-800. It’s a tough challenge because those are formidably efficient planes in their NEO and Max variants, particularly once you add in the incumbency effect.

    • For this tough challenge, Bombardier has a good strategic advantage: a family business structure with conservative approach and long shot target. After EIS of NEO and MAX, after the industrial decision to produce, maybe we will see Bombardier made an incredible announcement about new models of Cseries… The share of this market outlook between OEM is, for now, a static view… so we can imagine many things from now.

  5. The forecasts presented by Airbus and Boeing seems to imply Airbus and Boeing have little alternatives then to optimize their next NB designs for 125-175 seats. Building something that can also carry 210 people a long way will get it outperformed by CSeries etc. below 150 seats. The segment below 175 seats is 4 times as big as above 175 seats..

    As I said before Airbus plugging in a 200 seat A320 variant, airlines asked for and probably will increasingly ask for, will strike the most successful 737, the 737-800 in the heart and could IMO speed up the NSA development by several years.

    E.g. Michael O’Leary and Airbus could agree within days on 200 aircraft launch order.

    Although not covered in the Airbus and Boeing forecasts above, there is >200 seat single aisle segment. I think the A320 family still has upward potential, less so for the 737. The A321s wing has become the biggest limitation (wing loading, fuel capacity) but if Airbus increases the wing by 10-15% ( E1.5-E2 Billion?) it could cover the segment up to 240 seats medium haul, currently flown by A300/A310, 757, 767-200 and Tu154. The PW1100G can go up to 40k lbs. A marketsegment I estimate as at least 2000 aircraft in the next 20 yrs (intra Asia, Leisure, Transcon, EMEA, eating from the current 210 seat single aisle and 250 seat twin aisle forecasts).

  6. Thanks. Any idea why Boeing dropped its forecast for the Large and Single Aisle segments from last year’s forecast?

      • Also seems strange. All these numbers dropped but total deliveries increased compare to last year’s forecast.
        2011 forecast (World) 2012 forecast World)
        GDP growth rate 3.3 3.2
        Traffic growth rate 5.1 5.0
        Cargo growth rate 5.6 5.2
        Fleet growth rate 3.6 3.5

  7. FF :
    The challenge, as I see it, for the CSeries is that airlines are quite happy to put bigger aircraft on routes they used to fly with A319s and 737-700s.

    It is not that they are happy to put bigger aircraft on routes they used to fly with A319 and 737-700. It is rather that they are not happy with the A319 and 737-700, which forces them to go for the larger models.

    When the CSeries will be available and proven it will affect the entire business model. The airlines adapt to what’s available. All the segments between 50 and 500 + passengers form a continuum. The hole we see in the 100-150 segment does not reflect the market requirements, but rather the availability of the right product, like for example we have above 150 passengers with the finely tuned A320 and 738.

    Like Marshall McLuhan used to say “the medium is the massage”. We could add “the airplane is the market”. Build them and they will come.

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