Boeing is confident that the bounce-back in flying will be sustained, and is upbeat in its 20-year forecast for Oceania.
The company's high-level market update finds that Covid-19 vaccine rollouts around the world, running ahead of previous expectations, and eased government regulations will drive a short-term revival following the industry's worst-ever economic blow. And it believes the fundamentals are good for a long-term recovery, which happened previously after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the global financial crisis.
Wendy Sowers, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' director of market forecasting and analysis, says the industry may be better placed to recover from what has been a much deeper trough triggered by the pandemic, as action by governments to protect their economies and consumers mean travellers are in a better financial position.
"One of the things we're seeing where folks are feeling able to travel from the health standpoint, as well as from the regulatory standpoint, you're seeing quite rapid snap backs in markets where those things are all coming together."
People had saved up while they were locked down and many were now eager to travel.
Around the world, a domestic recovery is happening first, and quite quickly. In September, revenue passenger kilometres reached 76 per cent of 2019 levels for the same month. Boeing expects this domestic recovery to play out further in 2022, and regional and long-haul international during the following two years.
Globally, 85 per cent of planes are now back in service — although not flying at the same rates as before the pandemic. That left about 3500 aircraft parked in long-term storage.
Single-aisle planes have been quickest to return to service because of their greater use on domestic routes.
Bowers said the fundamental reasons for flying remain — connecting with friends and family, exploring and doing business.
"Some of the elements of that may change and shift a little bit as we move through the pandemic and through the recovery over the next couple of years, but those fundamental needs that we see are why people travel by air."
In Oceania, with its long distances between countries, flying was the only way of getting around in some cases. Travel and tourism account for about 11.7 per cent of GDP in this region, third behind the Caribbean and southeast Asia.
Timed for release around the time of the Dubai Airshow, Boeing's Commercial Market Outlook says long-term, market fundamentals and resilience will drive demand through to 2040 for more than 43,500 new planes valued at US$7.2 trillion ($10.3t).
By 2040, it says, the global commercial fleet will surpass 49,000 aircraft.
In Oceania — dominated by the Australian domestic market and transtasman travel — Boeing believes 760 new planes will be needed in the next 20 years, two-thirds of them replacement aircraft.
Air New Zealand operates 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and has two more of them on order, as well as six stretched 787-10s as it phases out its 777s as part of fleet simplification.
Boeing says traffic in Oceania is forecast to grow by just on 3 per cent a year. This will require the hiring of 38,000 pilots, cabin crew and technicians.
But Covid has taken a heavy toll. The Board of Airline Representatives estimates that 5000 New Zealand aviation sector workers have lost their jobs.
Boeing says that during the pandemic, the region's flight operations have fluctuated from less than 10 per cent to more than 70 per cent of 2019 levels. While Qantas has resumed international passenger flights, continued border restrictions in New Zealand mean they are extremely limited.
Domestic flying has also bounced back across the Tasman, but with Auckland still locked down, internal traffic in this country has been cut to about 40 per cent. That is a result of the August border failure, at a time when the Government's vaccination programme had fully jabbed just 25 per cent in the vulnerable city.
Boeing says market fragmentation, which has been enabled by the introduction of highly efficient and versatile widebody planes, remains a key trend in Oceania.
The planemaker says that while Covid-19 has caused an unprecedented crisis for aviation, particularly on international routes, increased consumer choices will generate more international demand, especially as Oceania continues gaining popularity as a tourism destination from regions including southeast Asia.
Earlier this year Boeing posted record 12-month losses of US$12.8b and plunging sales, hit not only by the pandemic, but also problems getting the troubled 737 Max back in the air.
But in July it reported its first quarterly profit in two years (US$755m) due to the aviation revival, higher military sales and deliveries of the Max planes - now the subject of damning reports on its development programme, which led to two crashes in which 346 people were killed.
The Dubai Air Show is the first major aerospace exhibition since the start of the pandemic early last year. These events are big for plane order announcements and Emirates boss Sir Tim Clark this week floated the idea of shifting away from his airline's Boeing's 777X order of of 115 planes because of unhappiness with delays and the deal.
Airbus A350s could fill the gap and the European planemaker used the venue to release its market outlook to 2040.
In the next 20 years, Airbus forecasts demand for air transport to progressively shift from fleet growth to the accelerated retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft, resulting in a need for some 39,000 new-build passenger and freighter aircraft, 15,250 of those for replacement.
As a consequence, by 2040 the vast majority of commercial aircraft in operation will be of the latest generation, up from some 13 per cent today, considerably improving the CO2 efficiency of the world's commercial aircraft fleets.
"While having lost nearly two years of growth over the Covid period, passenger traffic has demonstrated its resilience and is set to reconnect to an annual growth of 3.9 per cent a year, driven by expanding economies and commerce around the globe including tourism," Airbus says.
The middle classes, who are the people most likely to fly, will grow in number by 2 billion people, to 63 per cent of the world's population.
"As economies and air transport mature, we see demand increasingly driven by replacement rather than growth. Replacement being today's most significant driver for decarbonisation. The world is expecting more sustainable flying and this will be made possible in the short term by the introduction of most modern airplanes," said Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International.
Airbus said last week that it had bounced back strongly into profit in the first half of the year as aircraft deliveries rose, leading the company to increase its performance forecasts.
Airbus posted a net profit of US$2.6b for the first six months of this year, compared to a loss of U$1.9 billion for the same period last year.