US aircraft maker Boeing Co has forecasted that the Indian market will need 290 new commercial jets worth $22 billion over the next 20 years.
Senior Vice President of Sales Dinesh Keskar told a news conference here late on Thursday that air traffic growth in Southwest Asia, dominated by India, will average 6.7 per cent over the period - among the fastest in the world.
However, growth in the Asian region as a whole is forecasted at 8.7 per cent annually.
Keskar said although the world aviation industry was still to get back to traffic levels of 2000, before last year's global economic downturn and the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, there have been definite signs of recovery, with Asia emerging as the brightest spot.
"Airline profits, in a general sense, will start to come back in late 2003.
After that the demand cycle will come back for new planes," he told reporters.
"We think the world needs 24,000 planes in the next 20 years," he added. Keskar said that the airline was hoping to sell its new generation Boeing 777 aircraft to Air India, which is looking to buy 17 new planes.
Air India is the country's main international carrier and wants to modernise its obsolete fleet, with many of the aircraft around 20 years old.