Demand for the very large passenger aircraft (VLA) sector has declined to such an extent that Boeing forecasts only 81 big aircraft will be built in the next 20 years, Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP-marketing Randy Tinseth told ATW in Brussels.

With the delivery of the 10th and final Boeing 747-8I to Korean Air set for July, Tinseth considered if the production of the passenger version of Boeing’s biggest aircraft has come to an end. “I’m not sure if it will be the last-built passenger 747-8 for an airline,” Tinseth said. “As we look at the 747-8, we see its future as a freighter or VIP or Boeing Business Jet aircraft.”

Tinseth said the order of 14 Boeing 747-8 freighters from United Parcel Service (UPS) in October 2016 has given the 747-8 program a boost.

However, in terms of passenger traffic, twin-engine aircraft like the 777 and 787s are dominating the wide-body market. “[For example], when you look [at] Tokyo Narita, in the past what you saw there were just 747s,” Tinseth said. “Fifteen years later, it’s changed to 777s [and] now it’s going to be the 787.”

The 787 has opened 150 new routes worldwide since its first commercial flight on 2011.

Speaking at the Press Club in Brussels, Tinseth forecast a demand of 7,500 new aircraft for Europe; 55% of which as replacement aircraft for legacy carriers, 45% to be ordered from low-cost carriers which continue to change the landscape.

Boeing forecasts 41,030 new aircraft will be required over the next 20 years, valued at $6.1 trillion. Of that total, 40% would go to Asia, 20% to Europe and North America apiece and 20% to the rest of the world.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at