BOEING, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, says air travel in China will grow by an average of more than 14 per cent a year in the next decade. Releasing its latest global market forecast yesterday, the US-based firm said air traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific would be the strongest in the world, at 7.8 per cent a year to 2005, creating the need for many new jets. The region would help to boost world air travel growth by 70 per cent in the period, because airlines in the Asia-Pacific were 'the fastest growing and most prosperous' and operated in the world's fastest-growing economic region. 'Asia-Pacific air travel growth in the 1990s continues to outpace European and North American rates.' Over a 20-year period, China's domestic market would be among the world's largest for single-aisle aircraft, Boeing said. It predicted the Asia-Pacific would receive 35 per cent of the world's aircraft deliveries to 2015, valued at about US$385 billion. Asia-Pacific growth to 2015, at 7.1 per cent a year, would be identical to that of the US but significantly higher than the global average of 5.1 per cent, it said. To 2015, China would average annual traffic growth of 11.5 per cent and would help to make air traffic in Asia equal to that of North America. The potential growth rates meant the world's airlines would need to add 15,900 aircraft to their fleets, worth more than US$1.1 trillion at 1995 prices. 'Traffic growth and sustained airline profitability are beginning to result in airplane orders,' Boeing said. 'Our industry appears to have made it through the bottom of the cycle. Recovery is underway.' The company attempted to play down the significance of reports yesterday that the largest single customer of its highly touted 777 airliner, United Airlines, had called the reliability of the craft 'a major disappointment'. Boeing confirmed a letter from United to the manufacturer that said the airline was 'very concerned' about problems it described as 'significant'. A total of 12 technical problems had caused a significant number of flight cancellations that were 'intolerable', the letter said, adding that pilots had reported problems with the twin-engined jet. Five airlines have taken delivery of 17 so far, and other carriers - including Cathay Pacific Airways - are to acquire them soon. United operates 10 and will take more in the coming years. British Airways, one of the five airlines operating 777s, said it had experienced problems with its new jets, but stressed they did not affect safety. Cathay, which in May will take delivery of the first of 11 it has on firm order, yesterday said it was aware of the complaints by United but was not too concerned. 'We know that Boeing are addressing the problems highlighted by United and we are sure that we will have a smooth entry into service with our Rolls-Royce powered 777s,' a Cathay spokesman said. Boeing said the problems were being addressed and claimed the overall reliability rate of the new jet was high despite the complaints.