Boeing Sees Airline Fleet Doubling

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As it rolls up its sleeves to duke it out with Airbus for market share, Boeing is predicting the world's fleet of airliners will double in the next 20 years to 35,000 aircraft (and you've got trouble getting a clearance, now?). And the Chicago-based plane-maker says the most growth will come at the low end of the market. In its 2004 Current Market Outlook, Boeing sees the biggest market in single-aisle airliners (perhaps a not-so-curious correlation with the sort of airliners with which it's had recent success), which it predicts will command 59 percent (14,770 aircraft) of the market. Curiously, it's predicting that only 21 percent of sales will come from twin-aisle mid-size aircraft, like its new 7E7 Dreamliner. Regional jets are predicted to satisfy 17 percent of overall demand while large aircraft (like Airbus's A380) have a minuscule (3 percent) of the future market (790 planes), according to Boeing's built-by-Boeing crystal ball. What's perhaps more telling is that Boeing is predicting airlines will rely less on the hub-and-spoke schedule in favor of "more nonstop, point-to-point flights and increased frequency choice, not larger airplanes." In the press release, spokesman Randy Baseler said the external forces that created the most recent downturn "do not change the fundamentals of economic growth and the need for people to travel."