U.S. airplane maker Boeing Co. said Monday it expected to make a full-year 2003 operating profit on deliveries of 280 commercial jets, though airplane production was unlikely to recover until 2005.
“THIS YEAR WE will deliver about 280 airplanes,” Randolph Baseler, vice president marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told a news conference in Sweden, in line with the company’s previous forecasts.
Boeing’s main rival, European Airbus, is expected to deliver around 300 jets this year, overtaking Boeing for the first time as the world’s leading supplier.
“Our objective is to be financially successful,” Baseler said.
Asked if Boeing would be able to make a profit in 2003 on sales of 280 airplanes, down from 381 in 2002 and 527 in 2001, Baseler said: “Yes...from an operating point of view it will be a profit.”
In the first half of this year the Boeing group posted an operating loss of $666 million. The Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit delivered 186 new airplanes, down 34 percent year on year, and made an operating profit of $313 million.
Boeing expects global demand for new commercial jets to total 24,300 airplanes in the 20 years beginning in 2003, the company said in a market outlook.
“In the next 20 years, we forecast that the world will require $1.9 trillion in new airplane deliveries, that is 24,300 new airplanes,” it said.
The Boeing forecast assumed annual world economic growth would average 3.2 percent through 2022, airline passenger traffic growth of 5.1 percent per year and annual air cargo traffic growth of 6.4 percent.
“Commercial aviation will come back again because it is so interlinked with world economic growth,” Baseler said, attributing the past two years’ slump in civil aviation mainly to the hijacked airline attacks on the U.S. in September 2001.
“With 5.1 percent passenger growth and 6.4 percent cargo growth projected, the total fleet will double in the next 20 years. It will take almost 18,400 airplanes to meet growth requirements. In addition it will take about 5,900 airplanes to replace retiring airplanes,” the company statement said.
Baseler reiterated Boeing’s forecast of 275-290 new commercial aircraft deliveries in 2004.
“We expect that probably there will not be a turn-up in airplane production until 2005,” he said, adding Boeing expected the airline industry as a whole to return to profitability in 2004, with new orders for airplanes picking up in 2004-2005.
INTEREST IN 7E7
Baseler told Reuters on the sidelines of the market outlook presentation that plans for Boeing’s new 7E7 Dreamliner passenger jet remained on track.
“We plan to go to the board in December, and we expect the board to approve the 7E7 in December,” he said.
“We would then launch the 7E7, offering it to airlines in the first quarter of 2004,” he said. Test flights of the aircraft, which is to be assembled in the U.S. at an as-yet-unspecified location, would take place in 2007 and first deliveries in 2008, Baseler said.
The 7E7 is Boeing’s first all-new commercial plane in more than a decade.
At a separate presentation in Rome, Boeing’s commercial vice president for Europe said the 7E7 Dreamliner had drawn interest from 50 airlines, particularly in Asia and Europe.
“Around a third of the interest has come from Europe and we’ve had a lot of discussion with Asia carriers, which are pretty vibrant and recovering well from the impact of the SARS virus,” Marlin Dailey told reporters.
“U.S. customers are interested and intrigued, but they have a different set of issues to deal with. I do not expect them to lead the launch of 7E7,” he added.