AVIC, Comac predict continued strong growth for China fleet

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Chinese airframers AVIC and Comac forecast that China's civil aircraft fleet will number above 5,000 by 2030.

Comac, maker of the C919 narrowbody, said China's fleet will amount to 5,367 aircraft by 2030, up from 1,616 in 2010. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 6.2%.

China's airliner fleet will also account for 15% of the world's total airliners, up from 9% in 2010. AVIC said China will have 5,118 aircraft in 2030, compared with 1,506 in 2010. In 2030, aircraft of 150 seats will dominate, followed by regional aircraft and then 100-seat models.

"China's civil aviation industry is expected to maintain comparatively rapid growth in the next 20 years," said AVIC. "RPKs will grow at 8.1% annually, and eventually reach 1.9 trillion passenger kilometres by end of 2030."

AVIC is also bullish on freight-tonne kilometres. It forecasts growth of 9% annually, hitting 99.6 billion tonnes by the end of 2030.

As for aircraft demand, China will need 4,583 new aircraft between 2011 and 2030.

The companies' views were presented in separate press conferences held on the sidelines of the Aviation Expo/China 2011 in Beijing.

Comac's report also discussed the implications that changing patterns of urbanisation will have on air travel. For the past 20 years China's economic growth has been concentrated in coastal areas, but now new opportunities are emerging in other industrial areas, and a key government objective is improving transport infrastructure throughout China.

"Starting in 2011, regional aircraft operating domestic feeder flights are exempted from airport construction fees," said Comac. "This is intended to stimulate demand for regional aviation."

Comac also noted the rise of hub and spoke systems among Chinese carriers, although no carrier has achieved the "hub dominance" that can be found in other markets such as the USA and Europe. "This may suggest that there is room for further network hub development as the industry grows and the international gateways expand," it said.