Passenger traffic continues to grow strongly despite record fuel prices, according to the 2005 Airbus market survey.

Fuel prices are one of four major trends impacting the market, the others being the continued advance of low-cost carriers, rapidly emerging markets such as India and China and sustained world economic growth.

The result was an expected demand over the next 20 years for a total of 17,328 new aircraft worth a total of $1.9 trillion.

"We saw a very strong recovery in the market in 2004 and the overall momentum continued into 2005," says Laurent Rouard, Airbus vice-president, market forecast and research.


"This year we are seeing 6 to 7 % growth. In 2004, growth was probably about 13% worldwide. We had forecast it would be 11.5% but we were surprised by the strength of the recovery."

One result of the upturn was that some 500 aircraft were taken out of storage and returned to service. "It shows the dynamics of our industry but we do not expect any additional parked aircraft to be brought back," says Rouard. "Some 90% of the aircraft remaining parked are over 15 years old, and so are expensive to operate."

On fuel, Rouard says the price of crude oil was expected to remain high, in the $35-$60 per barrel range, until the end of 2006. One impact is likely to be an accelerating retirement rate for older aircraft.


Ranked by age, around 5,000 aircraft are classified as in the mid-age category (11-20 years old) and 1,150 are classed as old (20-plus). Rouard estimates that if the older aircraft were retired and replaced with new-generation aircraft, the cumulative saving on fuel would add up to $5.5 billion a year.

Another key driver of the industry is the continued growth in emerging markets such as China and India.

"We believe that India will be next (for sustained, high growth) after China. We see a very high growth for India going forward and are forecasting growth of 10% a year in India."

Source: Flight Daily News