By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
Boeing says that despite a generally sluggish economy worldwide, it's being forced to increase production of its full line of airliners as demand keeps increasing. "Except in Europe, we expect airlines to be profitable," Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president for marketing, told Dow Newswire. "When business is growing, airlines are profitable, they buy new airplanes." High oil prices might be to blame for some of the economic downturn but they're also helping to fuel the demand for new, more fuel-efficient airliners. He said Boeing expects airlines to retire about 500 older aircraft a year. At the same time, passenger growth, fueled in part by the expanding middle classes of many developing countries, will be about 5 percent this year after jumping 6 percent last year.
The upshot is that Boeing got orders for 412 airplanes in the first quarter of 2012 and booked 921 orders last year. Airbus took a staggering 1,608 orders in 2011. For Boeing, the surge in orders means it can't keep up with demand and will increase production by about 10 percent for its established designs. For instance, 737 production will go from 35 a month to 38. The newly introduced 787 is currently being built at a rate of 3.5 a month. That will almost triple to 10 a month by the end of 2013.