Airbus is attributing a slightly lower global fleet outlook in 2038 to a reduction in retirement ages, the result of higher airframe productivity.

While the manufacturer had previously predicted a global fleet of 48,000 aircraft by 2037, its latest 20-year forecast puts the figure at 47,680.

Speaking during an event in London, Airbus senior vice-president for business analysis Bob Lange said the decline – despite higher numbers of deliveries – is due to assumptions that the industry will improve aircraft productivity.

“We believe retirement ages are going to come down slightly,” he says, with aircraft operating higher numbers of flights over a shorter space of time.

“The aircraft is doing more in a shorter period, so more of today’s fleet is being replaced in a shorter period.”

Airbus has raised overall delivery demand over the 20 years to more than 39,200 aircraft.

It says the Asia-Pacific region will account for 42% of all deliveries, with Europe and North America trailing respectively in second and third place with 19% and 16%.