Airlines around the world will demand larger aircraft in future, to cater for increasing passenger traffic and improve operational efficiency.
This is the view of European planemaker Airbus, which released its latest Global Market Forecast in London this week, anticipating demand for 29,220 new aircraft over the next 20 years, valued at US$4.4 trillion.
And while the majority of these aircraft will be single-aisle jets, such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737, Airbus said that the average size of aircraft has increased 25% over the past 20 years, and predicted that twin-aisle aircraft will account for approximately 60% of the total value of new aircraft sales between now and 2032.
“The airline industry needs simplicity; it does not need ‘two of these,’ ‘four of these’ or ‘five of these,’ to cover the market,” said John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer for Customers, at today’s briefing.
The acquisition of larger aircraft not only allows airlines to carry more passengers, but also helps reduce fuel burn and cost per seat – an important factor in today’s high-cost environment. This is driving demand for new, fuel-efficient twin-aisle aircraft such as the A350 or B787 Dreamliner, as well as very large aircraft such as the A380. But according to Leahy, the shift towards larger aircraft is also being seen within the single-aisle segment.
Despite the rising demand for larger aircraft, single-aisle jets still represent 71% of total deliveries, in terms of aircraft unit numbers. But within the segment, Airbus said demand is shifting towards longer models.
“I remember when we had very strong demand for [smaller] A319s, then it shifted to the larger capacity A320 version… and we’re now seeing very, very strong demand for A321s,” Leahy said.
According to the Airbus forecast, the world’s airlines will need 20,242 new single-aisle aircraft between 2013 and 2032, valued at
US$1.80trn. And while this accounts for by far the most aircraft in terms of unit numbers, its value will be matched by the twin-aisle market, which will see 6,779 new aircraft deliveries valued at US$1.82trn over the same period. Finally the very large aircraft market, which includes the A380, is expected to see demand for 1,334 new aircraft valued at US$519 billion.
Of the total 29,220 new aircraft to be needed by 2032, 10,400 will replace existing aircraft. This means that the remaining 18,820 will add to the world’s existing fleet of 17,740 commercial aircraft, doubling the total global fleet to more than 35,500 jet aircraft.