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May 21, 2024
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Airbus is predicting demand for 40.850 new passenger and freighter aircraft between this year and 2042, up from 39.490 that was predicted last year through 2041. The airframer released its latest Global Market Forecast (GMF) quietly on its website this week, ahead of next week’s Paris Airshow. There are some slight variations between the latest and previous forecasts. Airbus sees demand for 40.850 new aircraft through 2042.

The GMF takes a 2.5 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth into account, down 0.1 percentage point from last year. Back then, inflation and higher oil prices were expected to have a short-term effect on demand for air travel. While continue to be reasons for uncertainty, air travel has recovered quicker than expected in the past year.

Even to the surprise of IATA, demand remains high despite higher ticket prices. Over the next twenty years, India and China will dominate the growth in air travel, with Asia and the Middle East as the wider growth regions. The average growth in passenger traffic will be 3.6 percent through 2042

Growth and replacement

Dissecting the market forecast for 40.850 new aircraft, Airbus predicts that of the current in-service fleet of 22.820 aircraft, only 5.710 will be active in 2042. These are some 1.700 fewer aircraft that remain active than in the previous GMF.

The latest forecast sees 23.680 aircraft needed for growth and 17.170 for replacement. Last year, this split was 24.050 and 15.440 respectively, so Airbus is predicting a higher demand for replacement now. In percentages, the split between new/replacement is 58/42 versus 60/40 last year. Including the fleet that remains active, the world’s fleet will grow to 46.560 in 2042 versus 46.930 in last year’s GMF.

Airbus points out that only 25 percent of the world’s fleet consists of new-technology aircraft with lower emissions and fuel burn. Although up from thirteen percent in 2019, this gives ample opportunities for replacements.

Narrowbodies versus widebodies

Of the new aircraft that are required, 32.360 or eighty percent will be narrowbodies, up from 31.620. Widebodies account for 8.220 aircraft, up from 7.870 last year, so Airbus thinks that the market can sustain 350 additional widebody aircraft.

By region, Asia/Pacific will require 9.480 aircraft, slightly more than the 9.440 for China. Growth in China is significant and compares to 8.420 aircraft in last year’s GMF. Next is Europe with a requirement of 7.970 aircraft (down from 8.140), North America for 6.970 (last year: 6.990), the Middle East for 3.420 (3.000), Latin America for 2.390 (2.50), and Africa for 1.180 aircraft (1.230). Latin America will have the highest demand (92 percent) for narrowbodies, while no other region than the Middle East needs more widebodies (43 percent).


Airbus also looks at the full freighter market, in which it wants to recapture lost market share from Boeing. Of the 1.990 freighters in active service today, only 720 will still be around in 2042. There is a requirement for another 2.510 aircraft, of which 1.240 are for growth and 1.270 for replacement.
Airbus sees demand for 920 new full freighters, up from 900 in last year’s GMF. Conversions account for 1.590 aircraft, up fifty from last year.

Of the 2.510 new and converted freighters, 1.020 will be narrowbodies, 890 mid-size widebodies, and 600 large widebodies. Airbus identifies a growing demand for express freight that requires smaller to mid-sized aircraft. From seventeen percent in 2019, express cargo is expected to grow to a 25 percent share of the cargo market, which itself doubles from 250 to 520 billion freight tonne-kilometers at a rate of 3.2 percent per year.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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