Commercial air travel will increase 4.7% annually over the next 20 years, according to Airbus SAS in a new market forecast. The expansion in traffic will drive airlines and jet-leasing groups to order 29,220 new aircraft over the outlook period.
Airbus issues a 20-year Global Market Forecast annually. The new outlook predicts the total demand will be 3.6% higher than the 2012 Forecast indicated, and anticipates 28,350 of the new total will be passenger jets; 870 would be freight aircraft.
As the current global aircraft fleet is 17,740 aircraft, the total number of aircraft in service will double to nearly 36,560 aircraft, Airbus predicted. In a similar study released in June, Airbus rival Boeing forecast a market for more than 35,000 planes.
Airbus said the driving factor in the growing demand would be the increasing availability of air travel in emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India. “By 2032, Asia-Pacific will lead the world in traffic, overtaking Europe and North America,” according to Airbus chief operating officer-Customers, John Leahy. “Today on average, a fifth of the population of the emerging markets take a flight annually and by 2032, this will swell to two thirds. The attraction of air travel means that passenger numbers will more than double from today’s 2.9 billion, to 6.7 billion by 2032, clearly demonstrating aviation’s essential role in economic growth.”
The OEM pointed to a list of demographic changes that are shaping the overall growth in demand: “Economic growth, growing middle classes, affordability, ease of travel, urbanization, tourism, and migration are some factors increasing connectivity between people and regions, and how often they travel,” Airbus stated.
The increasing number of “mega cities” (42 now, 89 by 2032) will mean a greater reliance on air travel to link them. Airbus stated that 99% of all long-haul traffic in 2032 would be between or through these urban centers.
This same trend will drive a need for larger aircraft, like the Airbus A380, with higher load factors – though not anticipating any significant increase in airport slots or numbers of flights. The increasing relevance of “sustainable growth enabled fuel burn and noise reductions” will shape the demand for fuel-efficient aircraft styles. Airbus listed its A320neo, the A320 Sharklet, the A380 and the A350 XWB, as examples.
The Very Large aircraft sector (e.g., the Airbus A380 model) will have demand valued at $519 billion over the 20-year period, or 1,334 passenger jets.
The Twin-Aisle aircraft sector market (A350 XWB, A330) will require 6,779 new aircraft, valued at $1.82 trillion.
The Single-Aisle aircraft sector will require 20,242 new jets valued at $1.80 trillion. “The global success of low-cost carriers (LCC), especially in Europe and increasingly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, is helping to open new markets and give access to the benefits of flight to first time flyers from these regions,” Airbus declared. “By 2032, LCCs will have increased their traffic market share from today’s 17% to 21%.”