Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice president Randy Tinseth said that during discussions with THAI recently, the airline showed interest in acquiring Boeing 777 cargo aircraft.
The Boeing 777 cargo version is considered the most cost-efficient. Air France already uses it, said Tinseth, who was attending a seminar in Bangkok yesterday.
He said Boeing foresaw long-term growth for the aviation industry in Southeast Asia and forecast a turnaround for Thailand's economy next year.
"We have already reached the bottom of the economic recession, and we expect 2010 to be the year of economic recovery and 2011 for the airline industry," Tinseth said, adding that demand for new aircraft should begin in 2012.
During the inauguration of two new Airbuses yesterday, THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand also expected the airline's load factor to average 75 per cent in the fourth quarter, thanks to the strengthening economic recovery and more stable oil prices. People's appetite for travel should begin to recover if the political situation remains calm, he said.
Early next year, THAI will receive five more Airbus A330s, which will increase the airline's A330 fleet to eight. It now has 90 aircraft: 47 Boeings, 42 Airbuses and 1 ATR.
Piyasvasti stressed THAI saw no need to open new routes next year, because its business strategy would focus on increasing flight frequencies on busy routes, such as to Singapore.
Tinseth forecast airlines around the world would need 29,000 new aircraft worth US$3.2 trillion (Bt106 trillion) through 2028. Older, less-efficient aircraft will be replaced with efficient, newer-generation models. Boeing's order backlog as of the third quarter was for 3,400 aircraft worth a combined $254 billion.
Air-traffic growth in Southeast Asia is expected to outpace economic growth, he said. Passenger growth over the next 20 years is expected to be above 6.5 per cent, while the region's economy is projected to grow at 4.6 per cent.
In the Asia-Pacific, long-term annual air-traffic growth is projected to be 6.9 per cent over the next two decades, Tinseth said. Overall air-travel volume in the Asia-Pacific is growing rapidly and forecast to account for 41 per cent of all modes of transport in 20 years, up from 32 per cent now.
Thailand's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract 3 per cent this year and grow 5 per cent next year before settling into a long-term trend of 4.5 per cent annual growth.
The contribution of travel and tourism to Thailand's GDP is expected to rise from 14.7 per cent this year to 15.6 per cent by 2019.
"In the long term, airlines will continue to invest in more efficient, environmentally friendly aircraft that also serve the needs of passengers," Tinseth said.
Boeing's manufacturing strategy is to deliver the right size of aircraft with the right capacity at the right time, Tinseth said.
But he admitted the company's superjumbo Boeing 787-8 would not be in service until late next year, behind the Airbus A380, which is already being operated by a number of airlines.