US aircraft manufacturer Boeing forecasts high demand for its aircraft from Middle Eastern airliners over the next two decades.

It predicts the Middle East will require 2,370 new planes, worth an estimated $470bn, over the next 20 years.

Most of this demand will be driven by the growth ambitions of the region’s major airlines, including Dubai’s Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Just 730 aircraft on order will be replacing current fleet assets.

The aircraft manufacturer predicts that as carriers increase the number of long-haul routes they operate, orders for long-range, twin-aisle planes, such as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner, will increase. Middle Eastern airlines already have a backlog of 882 planes, of which more than 62 per cent are long-haul, twin-aisle large aircraft.

Over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts that twin-aisle aircraft will account for close to 50 per cent of the region’s new airplane deliveries, which compares to just 23 per cent globally.

Globally Boeing foresees long-term demand for 34,000 new airplanes, valued at $4.5 trillion. As of October 2012, Boeing had a backlog of 4,242 aircraft, of which 337 have been ordered by customers in the Middle East.

Boeing’s predictions come as Qatar Airways announces it will amend its current aircraft orders, swapping some smaller planes on order for larger models.

It has signed an agreement with AirBus to increase its order for A350-900s from 40 to 43 and increase its A350-1000s from 20 to 37. It will keep its order for the larger A350 XWB aircraft at 80 aircraft.

The A350 XWB model is part of Airbus’ new range of mid-size, wide-body airliners that promise better fuel efficiency and operating costs.

Qatar Airways also took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in mid-November, one of a 60-aircraft order that will be delivered in phases over the next few years. The Dreamliner aircraft promises to offer passengers greater in-flight comfort, as well as being a more energy-efficient plane.