Airbus has increased its long term forecast for airliner demand by 3% as it believes the impact of the current economic turmoil will be more than compensated by airlines' drive to retire aircraft in the wake of ever higher oil prices during the next 20 years.

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

Airbus's head of market and strategy Laurent Rouaud says that to reflect the current turmoil, the long term traffic growth forecast has been reduced from 4.9% to 4.7%, resulting in demand for 700 fewer aircraft.

However, this is more than compensated by additional growth (250 aircraft) and an upward adjustment of around 1,100 aircraft that Airbus has included as it now expects the high fuel prices will prompt airlines to retire aircraft "a little bit sooner" than previously forecast. "So overall our forecast is about 700 aircraft higher," he says.

The increase 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 large freighter demand.

Source: Flight International