The global airline industry “is in better shape than it’s been in since the 1990s,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said Monday at the Farnborough Airshow, predicting “phenomenal growth” in commercial aircraft sales over the next two decades.
The heart of the market is the single-aisle sector, he said, and Boeing is adding a 200-seat version of the 737 MAX 8 to take advantage of the robust demand. The 200-seat MAX 8, offering 11 more seats than the standard MAX 8, will be 20% more fuel efficient than today’s 737NG, Conner told reporters.
He said the MAX is “the most successful launch in the single-aisle [sector] in Boeing history.” Yet, demand for single-aisle aircraft is so large that Boeing has just managed a split of the re-engined narrowbody market with the Airbus A320neo. “There are still 16,000 single-aisle airplane [sales] out there for the taking [over the next two decades] and we look forward to competing on every one,” Conner said.
With the 787-8 in service worldwide, the 787-9 about to enter service with Air New Zealand and the 737 MAX and 777X under development, “I think we’ve solidified our product strategy for an awful long time,” Conner said. Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ focus in now on production execution, he said, noting the steady rise in production rates the manufacturer has achieved over the last few years. Boeing will produce 55% more commercial aircraft this year than it did in 2010.
“We’ve been able to reach unprecedented production rates,” Conner said. “We’ll deliver more 737s this year than we did [all aircraft] across all of our programs in 2011.”