|17 September 2009|
|Demand for larger eco-efficient aircraft
Some 25,000 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at US$3.1 trillion will be delivered from 2009 to 2028, according to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast. Emerging economies, evolving airline networks, expansion of low cost carriers and the increasing number of mega-cities as well as traffic growth and the replacement of older less efficient aircraft with more eco-efficient airliners are factors driving demand for new aircraft.
Larger aircraft in all size categories are required to help ease aircraft congestion and to accommodate growth on existing routes and to achieve more with less. Compared to timescales for aircraft investment and fleet turnover, economic down cycles are relatively short and a strong underlying demand for air travel will drive growth. In 2009, a decline in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPK’s) of two per cent is expected to be followed by a rise of 4.6 per cent in 2010.
The forecast anticipates that in the next 20 years, passenger traffic RPK’s will remain resilient to the cyclical effects of the sector and increase by 4.7 per cent per year or double in the next 15 years. This will require a demand for almost 24,100 new passenger aircraft valued at US$2.9 trillion. With the replacement of some 10,000 older passenger aircraft, the world’s passenger aircraft fleet of 100 seats or more will double from some 14,000 today.
Airfreight tonne kilometres (FTKs) is forecast to increasing annually by 5.2 per cent. Combined with fleet renewal, this creates a demand for some 3,440 freighters. More than 850 of these are new aircraft valued at US$210 billion, with the remainder converted from passenger aircraft.
“Air transportation is a growth industry, and an essential ingredient in the world economy,” says Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. “Technology and innovation are key drivers for an eco-efficient aviation sector, and Airbus is at the forefront of both.”
Aviation also benefits individuals in every region of the world, with the number growing as aviation prospers. Oxford Economics predicts that in 20 years time, air transport will directly employ 8.5 million people worldwide and contribute US$1 trillion annually to world GDP. Tourism and indirect benefits are even bigger.
The greatest demand for passenger aircraft will be from airlines in Asia-Pacific and emerging markets. The region that includes the People’s Republic of China and India accounts for 31 per cent of the total, followed by Europe (25 per cent) and North America (23 per cent). In terms of domestic passenger markets, India (10 per cent) and China (7.9 per cent) will have the fastest growth over the next 20 years. The largest by volume of traffic, will remain domestic US.
Air traffic growth, increased frequencies, cost reduction, environmental responsibilities and airport congestion are increasingly influencing airlines to capitalise on the benefits of larger aircraft, particularly within aircraft families by minimising training and maintenance costs.
For example, in the US in 2007, airlines wasted 740 million gallons of fuel in congestion delays, equivalent to 32,000 London to New York flights. Bigger aircraft with reduced CO2 emissions are a solution. In the last 10 years aircraft have increased in size by three per cent and Airbus predicts that by 2028, the average aircraft will be 26 per cent bigger than today.
Airbus foresees demand for Very Large Aircraft (VLA) seating more than 400 passengers, like the A380, at above 1,700. Valued at US$571 billion, this represents 19 per cent by value of passenger and freighter aircraft deliveries, or seven per cent of aircraft units. Of these, nearly 1,318 will be needed to link the world’s most dynamic destination ‘mega’ cities, which are steadily increasing in number and size. This inevitably leads to a greater concentration of traffic. More than 50 per cent of the world’s VLA’s will be operated by airlines in the Asia Pacific region.
In the twin-aisle aircraft segment (seating from 250 to 400 passengers), some 6,250 new passenger and freighter aircraft will be delivered in the next 20 years, valued at some US$1,300 billion, or 42 per cent by value, 25 per cent by units. Of these, 4,240 aircraft will be small twin-aisle (250 to 300 seater) and about 2,010 intermediate twin aisles (350 to 400 seater). These segments are covered by the A330/A340 family. From 2013, the A350XWB family will cover the entire spectrum of twin aisle market requirements.
In the single-aisle segment, almost 17,000 aircraft worth some US$1,200 billion or 39 per cent by value, 68 per cent by units, will be delivered in the next 20 years. This is an increase over previous forecasts due to the emergence of low-cost carriers and increased route liberalisation and an accelerating demand for single aisle aircraft in Asia.