UPDATE 2-Planemakers shrug off Brazil gloom, forecast growth in Latin America
(Recasts lead with context on economy; add comments from Boeing, Airbus executives)
By Rosalba O'Brien
SANTIAGO, March 29 (Reuters) - The world's two largest plane manufacturers forecast on Tuesday that Latin America's commercial fleet will at least double over the next two decades, shrugging off worries about economic woes in regional giant Brazil and elsewhere.
As Brazil faces its worst economic crisis in a generation, demand for air travel has fallen sharply, hitting the profits and stock prices of carriers like Gol and LATAM Airlines.
U.S. planemaker Boeing Co and French rival Airbus said they were accommodating local airline customers by allowing delays and shifting stock toward stronger economies, while eyeing a more positive longer term view.
"A certain growth hasn't happened and therefore now there is kind of a surplus of equipment, so we are trying now to accommodate and delay," Airbus' Latin American head, Rafael Alonso, told Reuters in an interview at the FIDAE regional airshow in Santiago.
"We are placing them somewhere else. Some economies are in turmoil, but on the other hand we have others like Mexico."
Both Airbus and Boeing were sanguine on the long-term prospects for recovery in the region.
"The new middle class really enjoys air travel, they prefer that to buses," Boeing Latin America's head, Donna Hrinak, said. "So, yes, air traffic has fallen consistently since (last year), but as soon as the economy begins to pick up they're going (to) be back on those planes." Continuación...