According to a new market forecast released by Airbus, the world’s passenger and freighter aircraft fleet is set to more than double from today’s nearly 23,000 to almost 48,000 by 2038, with traffic growing at 4.3% annually, also resulting in a need for 550,000 new pilots and 640,000 new technicians.
By 2038, of the forecast 47,680 fleet, 39,210 would be new and 8,470 would remain from today. By updating fleets with latest-generation fuel efficient aircraft such as Airbus’s own A220, A320neo Family, A330neo and 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 while connecting more people globally.
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’ 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.
The report also states that air traffic is resilient to economic shocks, and has more than doubled since 2000. Air travel 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, states Airbus, and given that both are key growth drivers, Aviation Mega Cities (AMCs) 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’s chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International. “Globally, commercial aviation stimulates GDP growth and supports 65 million livelihoods, demonstrating the immense benefits our business brings to all societies and global trade.”