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Boeing raises forecast for new aircraft demand, single-aisle planes lead the growth projection

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CHICAGO - Boeing Co. raised its long-term forecast for new airplane demand by more than 4 per cent, based on expected orders of smaller, more fuel-efficient planes and burgeoning travel in Asia.

The Chicago company said Thursday that it expects deliveries of 36,770 new airplanes over the next 20 years, with total list prices valued at an estimated $5.2 trillion.

That's up from Boeing's forecast last year that global airlines would need 35,280 jets worth $4.8 trillion over the next 20 years.

Low-cost carriers are fueling the fastest growing segment of the market — single-aisle airplanes. Those aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and rival Airbus A320, make up 70 per cent of all orders, with the heart of that demand found in the 160-seat range.

"There's no question the market is converging to this size, where network flexibility and cost efficiency meet," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing's commercial airplanes marketing vice-president.

Small, widebody planes in the 200- to 300-seat range are leading demand in the twin-aisle segment of the market, the company said. Boeing forecasts 4,520 deliveries for those planes over the next 20 years, compared to 620 for widebody jets with 400 seats or more.

Boeing slightly reduced its forecast for large jets such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. It now expects airlines will need 620 of the larger planes over 20 years, down from a forecast of 760 last year.

Boeing said in its annual current market outlook that about 37 per cent of the airplane deliveries, or 13,460, will be made in the Asia-Pacific market, with North America and Europe the next two most common destinations.

Tinseth described the market for airplanes as "strong and resilient."

Boeing updated its forecast ahead of next week's opening of the Farnborough Airshow near London, one of the aviation industry's prestige events.

Shares of Boeing Co. rose 11 cents to $126.90 in morning trading despite a decline in the broader market. The shares hit an all-time high this year, but have fallen almost 8 per cent this month.

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