Nothing stays the same

The first time I went to China was in the early 1990s. I was a young marketing analyst supporting a sales campaign at China Southern. It was one of my first trips outside the United States, and so to me, it was a very “foreign” place - so many people, so many bicycles and such unusual food.

Since then, I’ve been back many, many times. With each trip, I gain a better understanding of the country, the culture, and the people. Over 20 years of travel, China calls two things to mind: change and growth. And there’s no doubt that the Chinese aviation industry will continue to change and grow the next couple decades.


Air passenger growth in China is on the same point on the growth path today as US traffic was in 1978.

Last week, we released our 20-year traffic and product forecast for China. As you may have read, we are forecasting a total demand for about 4,330 new aircraft valued at $480 billion. This makes China the largest aircraft market in Asia and second only to the US on a worldwide basis.

Some of the mind-popping numbers for this market both in the recent past and going forward:

  • China’s population continues to urbanize. By 2025, more than 200 cities will have more than 1 million citizens. That’s up from about 125 today.
  • China’s economy has grown at an annual rate of about 10% since 2000. We project it to grow at 7.3% per year over the next 20 years.
  • In the last 10 years, China traffic has tripled — from 83 million per year to 255 million passengers. It will exceed 1 billion passengers per year by 2029.
  • The Chinese airline fleet includes more than 1,500 airplanes with an average age of 6. 5 years each — the world average is 11 years.
  • We project the fleet will double in the next 10 years and more than triple by 2029.
  • About 100 new airports will open in China by 2020. (Can you name the last new airport to open in the US and when?)

The numbers tell it better than I can — China is truly one of the most dynamic markets in the world. I swear you can feel the energy - change is everywhere.

Comments (4)

Keith Nguyen (Seattle, WA):

Can you name the last new airport to open in the US? YES. Branson, MO - Circa 2008.

Even with another 100 airports, China's total number of commercial airfields will barely approach 300.

Alonzo Ruelas (El Paso, TX):

This is great news for The Boeing Co. Boeing employees will need to push the limits when it comes to innovation, meeting customer demand and hopefully have a lot of work cut out for them in the coming years.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Incredible. Nice to see organic competition growing in China. Means the industry will strive to new heights, and greater efficiencies. China has been modernising rapidly from a low level, yet still has some way to go to match Western infrastructure standards.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The economy in China has been one of the most secure in the world with consistent growth and with that a demand for new airports and aircraft for a growing and affluent middle class. Boeing should maintain Chinas interest as is being done now as Airbus is making aircraft in the country and an indigenous aircraft, the COMAC C919 is being made to compete with the 737.

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