Key Points:

  • Travel demand rebounds stronger post-Covid, with a surge in passenger traffic, tourism, and business.

  • Boeing grapples with supply chain issues, with 35 planes delivered in August versus 43 in July.

  • Boeing's CEO believes China’s homegrown C919 jet will take time before posing a global challenge to Boeing or Airbus.

Aviation Industry Unfazed by Recession Fears, Says Calhoun

ARLINGTON — Boeing's Chief Executive, Dave Calhoun, conveyed a positive outlook on the bounce back of travel demand, noting its strength surpasses previous anticipations. He shared his comments with CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” 

“The recovery is resilient, surpassing expectations. The revival showcases not only a pent-up passenger traffic and tourism demand but also businesses reestablishing themselves,” Calhoun said.

Highlighting the robustness of order books and heightened demand for proposals, Calhoun stated, “In my professional journey, the demand is as vigorous as I've ever seen.” Regarding potential economic downturn concerns, Calhoun clarified that these worries aren't prevalent within the aviation sector. Instead, the challenge lies in rejuvenating the pre-Covid resilience of the supply chain to meet the rising demands.

While Boeing reported a delivery of 35 aircraft in August, marking a decline from 43 in July, both Boeing and its competitor, Airbus, cited supply chain limitations impeding their ability to escalate production. The World Travel & Tourism Council, in May, projected that global travel and tourism wouldn't fully recover in 2023. Meanwhile, Skift Research indicated that while domestic airline capacity in China has rebounded, international flight capacity remains below 50% compared to pre-pandemic rates.

Yet, Calhoun expressed confidence, especially regarding China. “Just like other nations, China requires more airlift capacity,” he stated. He also expressed hopes for diminishing geopolitical tensions related to China.

When broached on the topic of China’s domestically produced Comac C919 jet potentially rivaling Boeing or Airbus, Calhoun expressed that it would be a considerable while before it manifests as a significant contender on the global stage. 

“If it does pose competition, given the current travel demand, it wouldn't be detrimental,” he added.

With a flourishing market that's expanding at a commendable rate, Calhoun says that having three major competitors catering to the demand isn't detrimental to the industry. In fact, it’s beneficial.