Airbus raises 20-year forecast for new jet deliveries

European plane maker now expects 40,850 deliveries, up from 39,490 in its previous forecast issued in 2022

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A350 is pictured with a Rolls-Royce logo at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France December 4, 2014.  REUTERS/ Regis Duvignau/File Photo
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Airbus raised its 20-year forecast for new aircraft deliveries as airline customers grow their fleet to meet soaring travel demand and replace older jets with more fuel-efficient models to reduce their emissions.

The world's biggest plane maker expects 40,850 deliveries of new passenger and freighter aircraft over the next 20 years, up from 39,490 handovers in its previous prediction in 2022, according to its latest Global Market Forecast revealed on Wednesday ahead of the Paris Airshow next week.

Of the 40,850 new deliveries through to 2042, about 58 per cent are expected for fleet growth and 42 per cent for replacement.

About 80 per cent of the new deliveries, or 32,630 aircraft, will be narrow-bodies such as the Airbus A320 Neo and Boeing's 737 Max. The remaining 20 per cent, or 8,220 aircraft, will be wide-bodies and the bulk of these will be delivered to the Middle East. Gulf airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways already operate huge long-haul fleets that connect their hubs with airports around the world.

Airbus said the world's fleet would more than double to 46,560 aircraft in 2042, from 22,880 at the beginning of 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 17,170 older aircraft will be replaced by newer fuel-efficient models, up from the 15,440 jets predicted in the previous forecast, while 23,680 planes will be used for fleet growth, Airbus said.

“The proportion of demand to replace older aircraft is likely to increase further going ahead to achieve the sustainability ambitions and commitments by the sector,” Airbus said.

Only 25 per cent of the global fleet currently in service is the latest generation fuel efficient aircraft, according to Airbus.

“The short-term priority for decarbonising the sector is to replace the remaining 75 per cent of previous generation fleets,” it said.

The growth outlook is primarily driven by economic expansion, a growing middle class, first-time flyers and growing trade, according to Airbus.

The plane maker forecasts that passenger air traffic will grow annually by 3.6 per cent over the next 20 years.

This median scenario could be affected by headwinds such as environmental regulations, energy availability and geopolitical instability, while tailwinds could include a “more stable world order” and further liberalisation, it said.

Asia and the Middle East, led by China and India, will power air traffic growth, further shifting aviation industry's “centre of gravity” eastward, Airbus said.

Middle East growth

Airbus predicts 3,420 new passenger and freighter aircraft deliveries to the Middle East by 2042, up from the previous forecast of 3,020 handovers.

About 47 per cent of these will be wide-bodies, the biggest regional share, with the region being home to the so-called super-connectors such as Emirates.

Global air freight

Airbus forecasts demand for around 2,510 freighters in the next 20 years. Of these, around 920 are new-built, up from 890 jets in last year's forecast.

In terms of air cargo, volumes dropped below 2019 levels although revenue remains above the industry's pre-pandemic performance, according to Iata.

Cargo volume is expected to hit 57.8 million tonnes this year, slipping below the 61.5 million tonnes carried in 2019, due to a “sharp” slowdown in international trade volumes, the airline industry body said last week.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 5:16 AM