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Nearly 37,400 new aircraft required over 20 years

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June 2019

Nearly 37,400 new aircraft required over 20 years

Airbus’ Global Market Forecast (GMF) for 2018-2037 offers a forward-looking view of the air transport sector’s evolution – accounting for factors such as demographic and economic growth, tourism trends, oil prices, development of new and existing routes, and ultimately highlighting demand for aircraft covering the full spectrum of sizes from 100 seats to the very largest aircraft over 500 seats. 

Entitled “Global networks, Global citizens,” this new forecast – which serves as a reference for airlines, airports, investors, governments, non-governmental agencies and others – anticipates that air traffic will grow at 4.4% annually, requiring some 37,400 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft at a value of US$5.8 trillion over the next 20 years.

For the 2018-2037 Global Market Forecast, Airbus addresses aircraft segmentation in the Small (S), Medium (M), Large (L) and Extra-Large (XL) categories to better reflect the use of aircraft within and between market segments.

Network & traffic forecast

> Compared to 2016, Revenue Passengers Kilometres (RPKs) grew impressively at 7.5% in 2017, according to ICAO figures which were preliminary at the time of writing. This represents an impressive 4.1 billion passengers carried by air in 2017.

>  Over half of the world’s tourists who travel across international borders each year were transported by air.

> Air passengers benefited from oil prices which remained relatively low, with airlines able to choose between stimulating the market through lower yields, and therefore ticket prices, or their margins.

> For the next 20 years, the Airbus GMF forecasts a 4.4% global annual air traffic growth. In our forecast the first decade will enjoy a 4.8% increase per year, with 4.0% average annual growth for the last decade, a lower figure but growth in those years based on absolute traffic numbers higher than today.

>  Asia-Pacific will lead world traffic by 2037, with a three-fold increase in the traffic serving this region by the end of the forecast period.

> Traffic between emerging countries is forecast to grow at 6.2% per annum, and will represent a growing share of air traffic, from 29% of world traffic in 2017 up to 40% by 2037.

> The three major flows connecting Western Europe are all expected to develop: Western-Europe – USA, Intra-Western Europe to grow 1.7 times and Western Europe – Middle East 2.6 times respectively.

> Amongst the Top 20 traffic flows, 60% will involve Asia-Pacific and 25% the Middle East.

Demand for passenger aircraft

Airbus already leads in the Small (S) segment with the A320neo and in the Large (L) segment with the A350-900. In the Extra-Large (XL) segment, the market for replacement aircraft is just starting and provides opportunities for the very efficient A350-1000 combined with the A380.

Looking at the four segmentations more closely, in the Small segment typically covering the space where most of today’s single-aisle aircraft compete, there is a forecast future requirement for 28,550 new aircraft, representing more than three-quarters of total expected demand. In the Medium segment, for missions requiring additional capacity and range flexibility, represented by smaller widebodies and longer-range single-aisle aircraft, Airbus forecasts demand for 5,480 passenger and freight aircraft. For additional capacity and range flexibility, in the Large segment where most A350s are present today, there is a need for 1,760 aircraft. In the Extra-Large segment, typically reflecting high capacity and long range missions by the largest aircraft types including the A350-1000 and the A380, Airbus forecasts demand for 1,590 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Of the 37,390 new aircraft required, 26,540 are for growth and 10,850 will replace older generation less fuel efficient aircraft. The more than doubling in the world fleet to 48,000 aircraft results in a need for 540,000 new pilots. Airbus continues to evolve its service business to meet the needs of its growing customer base.

Middle East & North Africa

It is often mentioned that the Middle East is well positioned geographically, but it is less well known that more than 40% of the World’s population is within reach of the Middle East with single-aisle aircraft like the A320. Take a twin-aisle like the A330neo and within 7,500nm you cover nearly 99% of the world’s population and countries responsible for 99% of global GDP. With the A350 XWB, the entire world is within reach from the Middle East.

Since 1997, the number of seats has grown more than five times, with an additional 450 million seats offered annually in 2017, compared to 20 years earlier. In 2017, nearly 40% of the seats were offered for travel within the Middle East either domestically or intra-regionally.

To meet this growing demand the regions airport infrastructure is developing with reported investment in over 40 projects at existing airports valued at nearly $100 billion (USD). These include terminal upgrades and runway widening in Abu Dhabi, terminal expansion and a possible new airport in Bahrain, terminal capacity expansion, a runway upgrade in Dubai, and developments in Jeddah, Riyadh, Muscat and Tehran where 100 million passenger a year capacity is reportedly planned.

Read more on the latest Airbus GMF here.

For more information please contact:
Afshin Jahanshahi
Marketing Manager - Airbus Africa & Middle East