Boeing has reported in its annual long-term demand forecast that global aviation will return to pre-pandemic levels only by 2024.

Boeing says that demand for domestic air travel will lead the recovery in 2022, with intra-regional markets expected to follow in 2023 as health and travel restrictions ease. This will be followed by the international travel in 2024.

The US plane manufacturer says that the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is of critical importance in the “near-term recovery of passenger air travel”, with countries with widespread vaccination distribution showing rapid air travel recovery. Passenger traffic growth is projected to increase by an average of 4 per cent per year, unchanged from last year, according to the manufacturer.

The manufacturer has increased its forecast of plane deliveries over the next 20 years, predicting that 43,610 new airplanes valued at US$7.2 trillion will be needed by 2040 – this is an increase of 500 from the previous forecast made a year ago.

Boeing says that the global commercial fleet will surpass 49,000 airplanes by 2040, with China, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific countries each accounting for about 20 per cent of new deliveries.

The manufacturer’s 20-year projections for the demand of twin-aisle models have increased slightly compared to 2020 but remain down 8 per cent from 2019. Carriers are expected to need 7,670 widebody airplanes by 2040 to “support fleet renewal and long-term passenger and air cargo demand growth in longer-haul markets”.

The demand for single-aisle jets is similar to its pre-pandemic outlook, with 32,660 deliveries over the next 20 years.

Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, commented:

“The aerospace industry has made important progress in the recovery, and Boeing’s 2021 forecast reflects our confidence in the resilience of the market.

“While we remain realistic about ongoing challenges, the past year has shown that passenger traffic rebounds swiftly when the flying public and governments have confidence in health and safety during air travel. Our industry continues to serve an essential role of bringing people together and transporting critical supplies.”