Europe-based aerospace giant Airbus recently published its forecast for new airliner and freighter aircraft demand for the next 20 years. The group’s ‘Global Market Forecast 2018–2037’ predicts a need for 37 390 new passenger and freighter aircraft over this period, taking the global fleet of such aircraft to a total of 48 000 (including existing aircraft that will still be in service).
Of the 37 390 new aircraft, 10 850 will be to replace current, less fuel-efficient, airliners, while the other 26 540 will be required to meet growing market demand. To fly these new aircraft, 540 000 new pilots will be needed.
Air traffic is predicted to show resilient growth, at 4.4% a year. This will be driven by an increase of 2.4 times in private consumption in emerging economies, an almost 100% increase in the size of middle classes worldwide and higher disposable incomes. Emerging market countries, which will be responsible for more than 60% of economic growth, will see trips per capita increase by 2.5 times.
The report also predicts that, because of the advance of air traffic liberalisation, the evolution of airline business models, and the increasing extent of air transport, the sector will become increasingly resilient to regional economic downturns. Technological developments resulting in greater range and capacity for aircraft will permit airlines to investigate new business openings, while still being able to focus on cutting costs.
“There is a growing trend to use aircraft across a broader range of operations, with today’s more capable aircraft blurring the boundaries between market segments,” highlights Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz. “These realities made us develop a new segmentation with small, medium, large and extra-large categories, reflecting more closely the way airlines operate aircraft. Thanks to the versatility of our leading, most comprehensive family of aircraft, the top end of our single-aisles, the A321neo, fly efficiently on long-haul routes and our wide-bodies, like the A330neo, equally serve regional operations.”
The small segment is composed of single-aisle airliners and the future demand in this category is estimated at 28 550 new aircraft. This amounts to more than 75% of the total predicted market. The medium segment is made up of longer-range single-aisle and smaller wide-body aircraft. This is a segment that covers missions that need range flexibility and additional capacity. Airbus’s forecast for this market is 5 480 airliners and freighter aircraft.
The ‘large’ segment is composed of aircraft with further capacity and range flexibility, such as most Airbus A350s, and the expected demand is for 1 760 aeroplanes. The ‘extra-large’ segment embraces the largest airliner types, with high capacity and long range, such as the A350-1000 and Airbus A380 aircraft; demand in this market is forecast to be 1 590 aeroplanes.
Airbus affirms that it is currently the market leader in the ‘small’ segment, with its A320neo family of airliners. It is also the market leader in the ‘large’ segment, with the A350-900. “In the ‘extra-large’ segment, the market for replacement aircraft is just starting and provides opportunities for the very efficient A350-1000 combined with the A380,” states the company. It also reports that it is continuing to develop its service business to address the requirements of the its expanding network of customers.
The Airbus group is active in the defence, space and helicopter sectors, and related products and services, as well as commercial aircraft. Last year, its restated revenues came to €59-billion and it has a global workforce of 129 000. In the commercial aviation sector, its products are the A320/A320neo and the A330/A330neo, and the A350XWB families, the A380 Superjumbo, as well as the recently acquired A220-100 and A220-300 (previously the Bombardier group’s CS100 and CS300) small single-aisle airliners.