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World economy to grow by 3.2% a year over 20 years: Boeing

A Boeing's employee walks down the aisle of a Boeing 737-900ER seen on display at the Farnborough International Airshow, Farnborough, England, in July of 2012.

Sang Tan/AP

The global economy will grow by 3.2 per cent annualy over the next 20 years, with most of that coming from the East, Boeing Co. predicts in its latest long-term forecast.

The company foresees South Asia leading the field with 7.1 per cent growth in gross domestic product from 2011 to 2031, with China closely following at 6.5 per cent. The company expects North America to lag far behind with a 2.6 per cent annual GDP increase over that period, and Europe with only 1.9 per cent. That's only a little better than the lowest performing region, Northeast Asia, at 1.3 per cent.

Over that period, Boeing anticipates strong Asian growth helping to double the world's number of commercial airplanes, from around 19,890 in 2011 to 39,780 in 2031. (Approximately 14,110 of those will be old planes retired and replaced by new ones by 2031.) Still, the company expects North American skies to remain busy, said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing for Boeing's Commercial Airlines group.

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"The long-term outlook for the North American airline industry is around 3 per cent annual traffic growth through the forecast period. The market is shaped by aggressive growth of low-cost carriers and the need to replace aging airplanes in the fleets of the established network carriers," Mr. Tinseth said.

Because of the correlation between GDP and world passenger and air-freight travel, Boeing closely tracks such global indicators.

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Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More


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