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Airbus: 39 000 aircraft needed globally in next 20 years

The world’s passenger and freighter aircraft fleet will more than double from today’s 23 000 to almost 48 000 in the next 20 years, according to Airbus.

Until 2038 the aerospace giant predicts a 4.3% annual growth in air traffic, resulting in 39 210 new aircraft needed and 8 470 remaining from today.

By updating fleets with latest fuel efficient aircraft such as the A220, A320neo family, the A330neo and the A350, Airbus believes it will largely contribute to the progressive decarbonisation of the air transport industry and the objective of carbon neutral growth from 2020.

Reflecting today’s evolving aircraft technology, Airbus has simplified its segmentation to consider capacity, range and mission type.

For example, a short haul A321 is Small (S) while the long-haul A321LR or XLR can be categorised as Medium (M). While the core market for the A330 is classified as Medium (M), it is likely a number will continue to be operated by airlines in a way that sits within the Large (L) market segmentation along with the A350 XWB.

The new segmentation gives rise to a need for 39 210 new passenger and freighter aircraft: 29 720 Small (S), 5 370 Medium (M) and 4 120 Large (L), according to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast 2019-2038. Of these, 25 000 aircraft are for growth and 14 210 are to replace older models with newer ones offering superior efficiency.

Resilient to economic shocks, air traffic has more than doubled since 2000. It is increasingly playing a key role in connecting large population centres, particularly in emerging markets where the propensity to travel is amongst the world’s highest as cost or geography make alternatives impossible.

Today, about a quarter of the world’s urban population is responsible for more than a quarter of global GDP, and given both are key growth drivers, ‘Aviation Mega Cities’ will continue to power the global aviation network. Developments in superior fuel efficiency are further driving demand to replace existing less fuel efficient aircraft.

“The 4% annual growth reflects the resilient nature of aviation, weathering short term economic shocks and geo-political disturbances. Economies thrive on air transportation. People and goods want to connect,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International.

He added: “Globally, commercial aviation stimulates GDP growth and supports 65 million livelihoods, demonstrating the immense benefits our business brings to all societies and global trade.”

The Small (S) segment includes the A220 family and all variants of the A320 Family. The core Airbus products in the Medium (M) segment are the A330 and A330neo family, and can also include the smaller A321LR and XLR versions used on long-haul missions.

The largest segmentation Large (L), is represented by the A330neo Family together with the larger A350 XWB family which also includes the Ultra Long Range (ULR) version. This segmentation will continue to be served by the A380 at the upper end.

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