Airbus has raised its forecast of demand for A380-size aircraft only slightly to 1,700 deliveries in its latest long-term outlook, but warns that this is a conservative estimate that could increase to 2,200 because the calculation assumes a very low level of airport congestion.

The airframer's 2007-2026 global market forecast, revealed in London last week, sees a requirement for 1,283 "very large passenger aircraft" (VLA - 400 seats and more) and 415 freighters for a total of 1,698 aircraft worth $527 billion. This is up only 2% on the 2006 forecast of 1,665 aircraft, with the outlook for passenger aircraft demand rising just 20 units from 1,263 aircraft.

However, Airbus's vice-president market research and forecasts, Laurent Rouaud, says the forecast for A380-type passenger aircraft is based on its most conservative figures for the impact of airport congestion and will rise under worsening scenarios.

"For our low-congestion scenario, we assume a frequency growth of 6-7% a year," he says. "If we turn the 'congestion knob' to a medium scenario and lower frequency growth to 5-6%, it would generate a requirement for 250 more very large aircraft."

Airbus's high-congestion scenario, where frequency growth is "capped at 3-4%", pushes the forecast up by about 500 aircraft, Rouaud adds. This takes overall demand for large passenger aircraft to just under 1,800 and the total, including freighters, to 2,200 deliveries.

"Today I believe the reality is between the low and medium congestion," says Rouaud.


Airbus has promoted Heathrow ahead of Hong Kong as its number one A380 hub over the next 20 years in this year's forecast, with Dubai - base of the largest A380 customer Emirates - in third. "We forecast that, by 2020, 90 daily flights at Heathrow will be operated by A380-type aircraft," says Rouaud.

He adds that the methodology behind this number does not look specifically at capacity-constraint issues such as the likelihood of a third runway being built, but rather the theoretical frequency-growth capability of each Heathrow city-pair.

Airbus’s latest GMF predicts a total demand for 23,385 new passenger and 877 new freighter aircraft over the next 20 years in the 100-seat and above sector – almost 10% greater than its previous forecast.  The airframer cites a higher projected rate of air passenger growth, and second-hand aircraft becoming a less-attractive option, as key factors for the increase in its demand forecast.

The entire market for 24,262 new aircraft is worth $2,830 billion. Of these, the largest single category is single-aisle, where the requirement is put at 16,620 aircraft. Demand in the twin-aisle sector is forecast at 5,944 units.


Source: Flight International