Airbus Is Predicting Major Growth For The Next 20 Years


The global commercial aircraft fleet is set to more than double over the next two decades, Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast shows. According to the forecast, up to 25,000 additional commercial planes will be required by 2038, taking fleet numbers to about 48,000 from the current 23,000.

The report also shows that an additional 550,000 pilots and up to 640,000 new technicians will be required over that period.

Why the Sharp Increase?

Two key factors are contributing to the fast growth in the aviation industry. First, aviation has proved to be one of the most resilient sectors. Despite economic shocks, traffic has more than doubled over the last 20 years. The industry is currently growing at 4% per annum.

“The 4% annual growth rate shows the resilient nature of air travel,” says Airbus CCO and Head of Airbus International, Christian Scherer. “The industry easily weathers short-term economic shocks and geopolitical disturbances.”

Secondly, air travel has positioned itself as one of the go-to modes of transportation for several reasons. It is, for example, the safest means of transport, and consumers appreciate that. Moreover, air transportation now plays a central role in connecting large population centers. This is especially true in emerging markets such as the Asia-Pacific region where the propensity to travel is growing fast. Air travel provides a safe, comfortable, and convenient transportation means for business and leisure travelers in these regions.

Mr. Scherer spoke on this too, saying that aviation currently connects more people in more places than ever before.

“Today’s economies thrive on air transportation. People and goods want to connect,” he says. “Aviation makes all this possible. Globally, commercial aviation stimulates growth and supports 65 million livelihoods. It is the clearest demonstration of the immense benefits our businesses bring to societies and global trade.”

New Generation Planes to Replace Old Ones

Aside from the increasing number of aircraft, another change you can expect to see is the introduction of new generation planes. According to the Airbus forecast, 39,210 of the projected 48,000 (47,680 to be exact) planes will be new, with only 8,470 remaining from today. It means that up to 14,530 commercial aircraft currently in operation will be replaced over the 20 years.

Airbus will be upgrading its fleet to fuel-efficient models such as the A220, the A320neo Family, the A330 neo, and the A350. The goal is to reduce as much as possible carbon emissions from air travel. Airbus aims for carbon-neutral growth from 2020.

It’s also important to note that the airline is changing the way it segments its aircraft fleet “to reflect today’s evolving technologies.” The new categories are Small (S), Medium (M), and Large (L).

Short-haul A321 aircraft, for instance, are categorized as small while long-haul A321LR or XLR models are classed as medium aircraft. The A330 family of aircraft, which are currently classified as medium, are, meanwhile, likely to be operated as large aircraft. The A350 XWB and A330neo family will also operate in the large (L) category, with the A380 serving at the top end of this segment.

Most of the new aircraft will be in the Small (S) category. According to the forecast, we’ll have 29,720 Small (76%), 5,370 Medium (14%), and 4,120 Large (10%) passenger and freighter aircraft in 2038.


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