Airbus sees SA as a selling opportunity


Airbus, currently the world’s largest planemaker, says South Africa’s airlines are forecast to need 172 new aircraft valued at US$23.3 billion by 2028, to satisfy an above-world-average demand for air travel – and the company says it is well placed to meet that requirement.

The company’s latest Global Market Forecast adds larger aircraft in all size categories are required to help ease traffic congestion and to accommodate growth on existing routes. Higher fuel prices and environmental are increasingly influencing airlines to consider the benefits of new more eco-efficient aircraft.

The region’s passenger and freighter aircraft requirement comprises 106 single aisle aircraft, such as the A320 Family, 48 twin aisle aircraft such as the A350 XWB (extra wide body) and the world’s best selling long range A330/A340 Family, and 18 very large aircraft such as the A380.

Speaking in Johannesburg yesterday Andrew Gordon, Airbus’ director for market analysis, said South Africa has experienced 27% growth in air traffic over the last 10 years. This he adds has been driven in part by increased international traffic which has grown by 41%. However, African airlines’ share of this international market has decreased by 8% in the face of increased competition from international carriers vying to carry travellers to and from the region.

During this same period, South Africa’s domestic market has expanded by 8%, with low cost carriers having grown to occupy nearly 40% of this market. Gordon says Airbus anticipates that the South African region will average annual passenger growth rates 6.3% over the next 20 years. “This is well above the all-Africa 5.6% average growth rate. It also surpasses the 4.7% world average growth rate.” Traffic flows between South Africa, and the Middle East; the People’s Republic of China; and North Africa are among the top 10 growth markets over the next 20 years. South Africa’s deepening trade relations with India and Brazil are also expected to drive substantial traffic growth.
“Further liberalisation of the air transport market in Africa, and growing regional and international trade are some of the key drivers of traffic growth in the region,” says Gordon. “In addition, the expected long term rise in tourism, particularly following the World Cup, will further contribute to the above average growth from, to and within South Africa. Airbus is extremely well positioned to meet this demand with our eco-efficient, modern family of aircraft.”

Compared to timescales for aircraft investment and fleet turnover, economic down cycles are relatively short and a strong underlying demand for air travel is driving growth, he adds.

Airbus says aviation is key component of economic growth and benefits individuals in all corners of the world. A report issued by Oxford Economics predicts that in 20 years time, air transport will directly employ 8.5 million people worldwide and contribute US$1 trillion annually to world GDP. Direct and indirect benefits to tourism are even greater. Although Africa accounts for about 1.8% of global international travel and 1.0% of international airfreight, the Air Transport sector currently contributes around $10 billion to Africa’s GDP, and could support close to 6 million jobs in the next 20 years.

Pic: SAA is a major Airbus user