Airbus increases 20-year demand forecast to 25,000 aircraft

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Airbus has stuck to its guns with its latest long-term outlook, increasing its demand forecast by 3% and restating its view that over 1,700 A380-sized aircraft will be required over the next 20 years.

The airframer's latest Global Market Forecast predicts that some 25,000 new airliners - including around 900 freighters - worth $3.1 trillion in total, will be delivered over the next 20 years. This compares with 24,260 aircraft worth $2.8 trillion in its last forecast, published in February 2008.

While it is no surprise that Airbus has increased its forecast, it contrasts with the view taken by Boeing when it released its long-term outlook in June. The US airframer reduced its 20-year forecast by 1% to 29,000 units, mainly because of a downward adjustment in its view of large freighter demand.

Airbus says it expects that long-term passenger traffic "will remain resilient to the cyclical effects of the sector". As such, a 2% traffic decline this year brought on by the economic downturn is expected to be followed by a rise of 4.6% in 2010. The airframer forecasts that traffic will double in the next 15 years.

This growth will require almost 24,100 new passenger aircraft to be delivered, valued at $2.9 trillion, says Airbus. "With the replacement of some 10,000 older passenger aircraft, the world's passenger fleet of 100 seats or more will double from some 14,000 today," it adds.

While the A380-size sector remains the smallest in unit terms at 1,700 aircraft, the high list prices of these aircraft puts the long-term value of the segment at $571 billion - or 19% of the $3.1 trillion total.

Airbus expects the single-aisle segment will account for almost 17,000 aircraft over the next 20 years, worth $1.2 trillion. "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," it says.

Small twin-aisles will account for the bulk of the widebody deliveries, with 4,240 predicted. Airbus puts intermediate twin-aisle demand at 2,010 aircraft - a key market for the airframer with its new A350 XWB. Overall, these two segments are worth $1.3 trillion.