Airbus has published its first long-term market forecast for over two years, in which it predicts demand for almost 15,900 new passenger and freighter aircraft through to 2020, worth $1,500 billion. Although its overall estimate is up around 8% in unit terms compared to the 2000 Global Market Forecast (GMF), the manufacturer has reduced its estimate for the size of the ultra-large-aircraft market in which the A380 will compete.

The two-year hiatus in publishing its annual GMF came as a result of last year's terrorist attacks. Airbus says that last year's forecast was about to be published when the attacks happened, and decided it would not be prudent to publish. The manufacturer says that it has taken 2000 as the base year "so as to avoid any distortion resulting from the unprecedented effects of 2001".

Airbus has simplified the categories into three passenger aircraft groups, and eliminated its previous "200-250 seater [A300/A310]" category. It says that future demand for 210-seat widebody replacements "will be filled primarily by single-aisle types". The manufacturer has also not published its forecast for the 75- to 85-seat market, although it says that it has analysed the sector to understand the demand for 100-seaters like the A318.

The changes mean that direct year-on-year comparisons can only be made for very large passenger airliners and freighters. While the latter is effectively unchanged, Airbus has reduced the 500- to 1,000-seater forecast by almost 100 aircraft to 1,138 units. Boeing's latest 20-year forecast, published in July, puts the market for aircraft with 500 seats or more at just 330 aircraft (Flight International, 6-12 August).

Airbus's forecast demand for large cargo aircraft (greater than 80t payload) remains about the same, at just over 300 aircraft. Boeing's forecast for the greater-than 65t payload freighter market is 220 units.

Airbus expects the ultra- large airliner fleet to grow steadily over the next 20 years to around 320 aircraft in 2010 and 1,150 by 2020, the bulk being 500 and 600 seaters.

Although Airbus has assumed world economic growth will be essentially unchanged from 2003, despite 11 September, it says "the crisis will have a lasting effect...the resultant shortfall in [business travel] revenue is unlikely to ever be recovered".

Airbus GMF comparison


2002 GMF Period 2001-20

2000 GMF 2000-19

70-85 seat



100-175 seat



100-200 seat



210-250 seat



250-400 seat



300-400 seat



500-1,000 seat









RPK/FTK* growth4.7/5.5%4.9/5.7%

* Annual revenue passenger-kilometres/freight tonne-kilometres

Source: Flight International