Over 31 000 new commercial aircraft needed in next 20 years – Airbus

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Around 31 400 new passenger and freighter aircraft, 100 seats and above, worth $4.6 trillion will be needed over the next 20 years, according to Airbus, as passenger traffic grows annually at 4.7%.

In its Global Market Forecast between now and 2033, Airbus said the passenger and freighter fleet will increase from today’s 18 500 aircraft to 37 500 by 2033, an increase of nearly 19 000 aircraft. Some 12 400 older less fuel efficient passenger and freighter aircraft will be retired.

The company pointed out that today 32 million flights carry three billion passengers and 50 million tonnes of freight a year. Globally the aviation sector’s economic impact is estimated at $2.4 trillion annually.

The economic growth rates in emerging markets such as Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are outstripping more economically developed regions. One significant effect is that the middle classes in Asia are expected to quadruple in size by 2033 whereas globally they will double from 33% to 63% of world population. As a result of increased urbanisation and concentration of wealth, the number of aviation mega-cities worldwide will double to 91, Airbus predicts. These cities will be centres of world wealth creation with 35% of World GDP centred there, with more than 95% of all long haul traffic going to, from or through them.

In advanced economies, international traffic flows will be the fastest growing. In the emerging economies of Latin America, Africa and the Asia Pacific, intra-regional and domestic flows will grow faster. For example, stimulation of new traffic coupled with increased accessibility of air travel will see India record the fastest growing domestic flows, becoming one of the 10 largest markets by 2033.
“Aviation is growing impressively and our latest forecast confirms its long term growth. While mature aviation regions such as Europe and North America will continue to grow, Asia will stand out along with emerging markets for dynamic development,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “This growth trend is confirmed by Chinese domestic traffic becoming the world’s number one aviation market within the next 10 years”.

In the widebody market, Airbus foresees a continuing trend towards larger models, with aircraft flying on long haul routes and also on an increasingly wide range of regional and domestic sectors. As a result, Airbus forecasts a requirement for nearly 9 300 widebody passenger and freighter aircraft over the next 20 years, valued at some $2.5 trillion. This represents 30% of all new aircraft deliveries over the forecast period and 55% by value.
“We see especially strong growth in widebody twins…Demand exceeds supply for these new generation aircraft, especially in the 2017 to 2022 time period and beyond, so naturally we are studying production increases on both models,” said John Leahy.

The widebody demand will include some 7 800 twin aisle aircraft with between 250 and 400 seats and some 1 500 very large aircraft with over 400 seats for operation on the busiest routes. Reflecting a higher than average growth and concentration of populations around cities, almost half of the new passenger widebodies will be delivered to carriers based in the Asia-Pacific region, then the Middle East (16%), Europe (15%) and North America (9%).

In the single aisle market the latest Airbus forecast sees a requirement for over 22 000 new aircraft worth US$2.1 trillion over the next 20 years, an increase of 2 000 aircraft compared to the previous forecast, representing 70% of all new units and 45% of the value of all deliveries.

Demand for single aisle aircraft will continue to remain high in markets such as Europe and North America, taking delivery of some 22% and 21% single aisle aircraft respectively. However, both regions will be overtaken by accelerating demand for single aisle aircraft in Asia. This will be driven primarily by the domestic markets in China and India, as well as the growing low cost segment in South East Asia, with some 37 per cent of all single aisle deliveries going to the Asia-Pacific region.



Traffic growth has led to average aircraft size ‘growing’ by 40 per cent since the 1980s with airlines selecting larger aircraft or up-sizing existing backlogs. Larger aircraft combined with higher load factors make the most efficient use of limited slots and contribute to rising passenger numbers without additional flights as announced by London’s Heathrow Airport. A focus on sustainable growth enabled fuel burn and noise reductions of at least 70 per cent in the last 40 years and this trend continues.