Airbus is citing a higher projected rate of air passenger growth, and second-hand aircraft becoming a less attractive option, as key factors for increasing its airliner demand forecast by almost 10% in its latest 20-year global market forecast.

The manufacturer has identified a requirement for 24,262 new aircraft deliveries in the 100-seat-plus sector as part of its latest long-term outlook for 2007-2026. This compares with the 22,263 it was projecting in its previous market forecast for 2006-2025.

"We see about 1,600 more aircraft than last time, so we are more bullish," said Airbus vice-president market research and forecast, Laurent Rouaud, at the unveiling of the new forecast in London on 7 February.

Most of these, a total of 1,290, are in the single-aisle sector. The forecast sees a demand for 16,620 single-aisle aircraft over the next 20 years. A further 276 are in the twin-aisle category, where it estimates demand for 5,944, whereas its large aircraft sector forecast of 1,698 aircraft for the next 20 years is 33 higher than the previous forecast.

"We see a lot less second-hand aircraft going back into the fleet," he said. The manufacturer sees 700 fewer second-hand aircraft returning to the market.

"Another reason is we see a higher traffic growth rate," added Rouaud. Airbus is projecting air passenger traffic growth of 4.9% over the 20-year period rather than 4.8% predicted in the previous forecast.

It puts the additional 400 aircraft down to a fuller analysis of the 100-seat sector and greater growth in the starting point of 2007 over 2006.

"We see three key drivers of growing air traffic - the first is the emerging countries," said Rouaud, pointing to strong economic growth projections for China, India, Russia and countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Indeed, while China and India lead these growth expectations - their economies are projected to be the second and fifth largest, respectively, by 2026 - Rouaud points to other emerging countries, such as Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Indonesia and Argentina. "You have quite a few other emerging countries," he says, pointing to 21 other emerging nations with populations of 2 billion or more.

A second driver of growth is low-cost carriers, Rouaud noting the capacity for further growth in this sector in Asia. "The third driver of growth for air transport is for replacement," he says. The forecast expects 92% of the current 14,980 passenger and freighter global fleet to be replaced by 2026.

Airbus 2007 Global Market Outlook
Aircraft 2006 Fleet 2026 Fleet New Aircraft Deliveries