Airbus Raises Expectations in Latest Forecast

 - December 14, 2010, 9:32 AM

Airbus now projects that the airline industry will need almost 26,000 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at $3.2 trillion between 2010 and 2029, according to the company’s most recent Global Market Forecast (GMF). Released this week, the latest GMF projects a demand for 900 more passenger aircraft–primarily in the single-aisle sector–than predicted in last year’s Airbus forecast, reflecting a slightly higher projected annual growth rate of 4.8 percent, compared with last year’s projection of 4.7 percent. The company now predicts a 20-year demand for almost 17,900 single-aisle aircraft worth some $1.274 trillion.

Airbus’s optimism stems from expectations for accelerated replacement of aircraft for newer, more eco-efficient models in mature markets; “dynamic” growth in new, emerging markets; the continuing rise of low-cost carriers, particularly in Asia; further market liberalization and capacity growth on existing routes.

Out of the almost 26,000 additional passenger and freighter aircraft needed, passenger aircraft will account for about 25,000, according to Airbus. Of the additional passenger equipment, 10,000 will replace older, less eco-efficient airplanes, while growth accounts for some 15,000. Taking into account today’s passenger fleet of more than 14,000 aircraft, the world passenger fleet will rise to some 29,000 aircraft by 2029, said Airbus.

“The recovery is stronger than predicted and reinforces both the resilience of the sector to downturns and that people want and need to fly,” said John Leahy, Airbus COO for customers. “The single aisle-sector is particularly strong, and our A320neo meets this future demand by providing our customers with the latest innovations and technologies whilst maintaining maximum commonality.”

In terms of passenger traffic volume, the domestic U.S. market still leads the world in share of total RPM’s (11.3 percent), followed by domestic China (8.4 percent), intra-European (7.2 percent), then U.S. to Western European routes (5.9 percent). Meanwhile, emerging economies continue to lead the recovery in terms of growth. At 9.2 percent, annual growth in domestic Indian traffic outpaces any other major market and ranks third fastest overall, after traffic between the Middle East and South America, and between North Africa and China. Seven out of the top 20 fastest growth flows connect China to the rest of the world, noted Airbus.

“Airlines in Asia Pacific including China and India will carry one third of the passenger traffic by 2029, making it the largest region, overtaking Europe [25 percent] and North America [20 percent],” said Chris Emerson, Airbus head of product strategy and market forecast.

Airbus asserts that average aircraft size is increasing as airlines endeavor to absorb traffic growth, minimize airport congestion, reduce costs and increase eco-efficiency. 

Airbus places demand for very large aircraft (VLAs), such as the A380, at more than 1,700 aircraft valued at more than $570 billion, representing 18 percent of total demand by value and 7 percent by number of units. Of those, some 1,320 will connect the world’s increasing number of “mega” cities, said Airbus.
In the twin-aisle aircraft segment (seating from 250 to 400 passengers), Airbus estimates that the world’s manufacturers will deliver some 6,240 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at some $1.340 billion over the next 20 years. Of those, it reckons the small twin-aisle (250 to 300 seat) sector will account for 4,330 aircraft, while the intermediate twin-aisle category (350 to 400 seats) accounts for about 1,910.