CHICAGO-The Boeing Co. is predicting that airlines operating out of Asian and Pacific Rim countries will purchase about 7,200 new airplanes worth $770 billion over the next 20 years, making it the largest market outside North America for new commercial airplanes.

In its "2005 Current Market Outlook" study, the aircraft builder says that because of continued demand for air travel and air cargo service, the Asia-Pacific fleet will nearly triple to about 8,600 airplanes by the end of the forecast period.

Single-aisle aircraft, such as Boeing's 737 and the Airbus A320, will make up the bulk of new deliveries, with Boeing predicting delivery of some 3,690 airplanes of this type. Larger twin-aisle aircraft will represent some 2,430 sales, while regional jets will total 540 units delivered, and larger aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 will represent 510 deliveries.

Boeing projects annual Asia-Pacific air travel growth will outpace the world average of 4.8 percent during the forecast period. China's domestic market will lead the way with a projected average growth of almost 9 percent per year. Air travel within the rest of the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to grow 6 percent per year.

Worldwide, Boeing projects that operators will invest $2.1 trillion for the purchase of approximately 25,700 new commercial airplanes during the next 20 years.