China will need 5,260 commercial jets by 2031 with an estimated market value of some $670 billion, according to a forecast Wednesday from US aviation giant Boeing.
Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing's commercial airplane section, said the Seattle-based company had revised up its expectations from last year, when it predicted China would need 5,000 new planes by 2030.
Between 2012 and 2031, China will account for 15.5% of the 34,000 airliners to be sold around the world, according to Boeing's projection.
The manufacturer said it estimated the number of planes in operation around the world in the next two decades would double from nearly 20,000 to nearly 40,000.
Boeing said the raised projection was linked to China's growing economic strength.
"There is a very tight correlation between traffic growth and GDP growth," Tinseth told reporters at a presentation of the report in Beijing, adding the rise in rail traffic was not likely to negatively impact the aviation industry.
"Around two percent of passenger traffic has been diverted to high speed rail, while the good news is that high speed rail allows the economy to grow at a little faster rate because you provide the connectivity, and probably at the end of the day, it has a positive net effect on the air transportation system", he said.
China's air travel is booming. A total of 267 million air passenger trips were recorded in the country in 2010, up 15.8 percent from the previous year, according to official figures.