A Boeing exec reveals what's in store for the 747 jumbo jet and predicts that Airbus won't be able to deliver the rest of its A380s

BoeingBoeing 747-8 Intercontinental.
  • Boeing‘s latest market forecasts show global demand for passenger and cargo jets to reach 42,730 over the next 20 years. The total value of this potential business is an astounding $US6.3 trillion.
  • Boeing only expects 60 of those planes to be passenger jets in the same category as the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.
  • Boeing vice president of market Randy Tinseth believes the 747’s future as a passenger plane will be as a VIP private jet.
  • According to Tinseth, the forecast takes into consideration Boeing’s belief that there isn’t enough demand for Airbus to deliver the rest of the A380s that are on order.

On Tuesday, Boeing released its latest market forecast for the next 20 years. In total, the US aviation giant expects global demand for jets to reach 42,730 aircraft over the next two decades. The total value, a whopping $US6.3 trillion.

Of those, only 60 are expected to be jumbo jets. That’s right, Boeing predicts global demand for passenger aircraft comparable in size to its own iconic 747 and the Airbus A380 will be three planes a year.

According to Boeing vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth, the 747-8’s market appeal in the passenger hauling business will be limited to work as an ultra-luxury private jet.

“The 747-8 Intercontinental is in our lineup, we see it mostly as a VIP opportunity,” Tinseth told Business Insider at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.

Since 2005, Boeing has taken just 150 orders for the 747-8, the latest incarnation of the jumbo jet. Of those, only 47 have been passengers planes. In fact, the company hasn’t landed a new airline customer for the plane since Air China placed an order in 2012. Currently, Boeing has zero order on books for the passenger carrying 747-8I.

Also baked into Boeing’s market forecast is the belief that there won’t be enough demand of Airbus to successfully deliver more than 100 A380 superjumbos that are still on order.

“We don’t believe Airbus will deliver the rest of their backlog on A380s,” Tinseth said.

Airbus did not immediately respond to a request to for a comment about Tinseth’s prediction.

Fortunately, for Boeing, it has a ready replacement on deck.

“The big aeroplane of the future for the aviation industry is going to be the Boeing 777-9,” the veteran aviation executive said. “It carries 400 passengers, it flies further than the 747 and the A380 does today.”

“It’s just the twin-engine, twin-aisle economics of that aeroplane just beats the big four-engine aircraft and it’s just the reality of the market,” Tinseth explained.

According to Tinseth, the large jumbo jets are useful in very specific cases where there is airport congestion. However, most airlines prefer to give their customers the option of more flight frequencies which makes smaller wide-bodies like the 787 more popular.

Boeing 747 8F Volga dnepr airbridgecargoBoeingBoeing 747-8F.

Over the past year, the jumbo jet officially ended passenger service with US airlines with both Delta and United sending their ageing fleets of 747-400s into retirement. Foreign carriers including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air China, Korean, and Lufthansa still operate the aircraft.

Even though the future for the 747 in passenger service seems a bit grim, the plane is expected to thrive as a cargo jet.

“The future of the 747 is in the cargo business,” Tinseth added.

Boeing expects there to be a market for around 980 new freighters in the coming years. A good number of them could be the 747.

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