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Despite the short-term challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic, aerospace firm Boeing Co expects demand for more than 2,200 new jet planes valued at nearly $320 billion over the next 20 years in India. The demand will be driven by strong aviation growth, fuelled by the expanding middle class, the US-based company said on Wednesday.

"Although the covid-19 pandemic sharply reduced Indian air travel last year, the country’s domestic passenger traffic is recovering more rapidly than in most other countries and regions, recently reaching 76% of pre-pandemic levels," Boeing said in a statement along with its India forecast forecast that was released today.

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The forecast is a part of the company's annual commercial market outlook (CMO).

"While covid-19 remains a near-term challenge, the country’s passenger traffic is forecast to outpace global growth, doubling from pre-pandemic levels by 2030," the company added.

As things stand, the aviation sector is adversely impacted by the ongoing pandemic, which has resulted in a decline in travel appetite, especially for overseas trips amid travel restrictions put in place by several governments to contain the spread of the virus.

“Many more Indians will travel by air for leisure and business as incomes rise tied to industrialization and as economic growth rate in South Asia leads all emerging markets," said David Schulte, managing director of regional marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“With greater demand for domestic, regional and long-haul travel, we anticipate India’s commercial fleet will grow four-fold by 2039," he added.

According to rating agency Icra Ltd, domestic air traffic will reach its pre-covid levels only by fiscal year (FY) 2023, while international air traffic will hit pre-covid normalcy only by FY 2024 because of sluggish demand from leisure and business travellers and a surge in new variants of the covid virus.

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