Dynamic growth in emerging economies will be the principal factor driving commercial aircraft requirements in the coming 20 years, according to Airbus. Other major contributions will come from increased global urbanization and a doubling of middle-class populations. “By 2031 the number of ‘mega-cities’ will more than double to 92, and 90 percent of the world’s traffic will be between (or through) these points,” concluded the European airframer in its new 2012-31 market forecast, released in London on September 4.
Airbus analysts see demand for 28,200 passenger aircraft (with 100 or more seats) and freighters nominally valued at almost $4 trillion (up from 27,860 aircraft worth $3.5 trillion foreseen 12 months ago). According to the manufacturer, more than 27,350 of them will be passenger aircraft.
The company predicts a 20-year need for 1,710 very large aircraft (with 400 or more seats), including almost 900 freighters. Nearly half (46 percent) of such high-capacity aircraft will go to operators in the Asia-Pacific region, while almost a quarter (23 percent) will go to North America and close to one in five (19 percent) will enter European service.
Demand for twin-aisle aircraft offering 250 to 400 seats amounts to 6,970 aircraft, including freighters. “Of these, 6,500 are passenger aircraft valued at $1.6 trillion,” according to the manufacturer. Asia-Pacific leads demand (again accounting for 46 percent of deliveries), ahead of Europe (17 percent) and North America (13 percent).
During the 2012-31 time frame, Airbus forecasts that manufacturers will deliver more than 19,500 single-aisle aircraft nominally worth more than $1.6 trillion. Asia-Pacific will lead demand for the smaller machines, too, accounting for a third of all the new aircraft, followed by North America (25 percent) and Europe (22 percent). Airbus sees some 30 percent of all single-aisle deliveries going to low-cost carriers.
“Aside from growth in international traffic, by 2031 four of the world’s biggest traffic flows will be domestic–China, India, intra-Western Europe and U.S.–and these account for a third of world traffic,” according to Airbus COO for customers John Leahy. “In 20 years, China’s domestic passenger traffic will overtake U.S. domestic traffic to become the Number 1 flow in our forecast. Aviation is essential not just for international commerce but also for domestic economies.”
Asia-Pacific will account for 35 percent of all new aircraft deliveries, followed by Europe and North America (21 percent each). China will represent the single most valuable market, ahead of the U.S., the United Arab Emirates and India, predicts the new Airbus forecast.