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Airbus Sees 20-Year Need For 24,300 Commercial, Freighter Aircraft

Revised Forecast Raises Earlier Estimates By Almost 1,600 Planes

Despite mounting concerns of a looming global recession, Airbus remains positively bullish on the airline industry's long-term prospects. On Thursday, the European planemaker released its updated 20-year Global Market Forecast, indicating a demand for 24,300 new passenger and freighter aircraft from now through 2026.

That's an increase of nearly 1,600 planes over the planemaker's 2007 forecast -- and represents a $2.8 trillion market to be divided up between Airbus, Boeing, and other current and future planemakers. That works out to average annual deliveries of some 1,215 aircraft, up from the previously forecast 1,130 average deliveries in the last GMF.

Airbus states demand will drive the need for more fuel- and- environmentally-efficient airliners to cope with traffic growth, and the need to replace older, less efficient models. Passenger traffic is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.9 percent per year, leading to a near threefold increase in the forecast period.

Airbus believes those numbers will remain resilient to the cyclical effects of the industry. Some of that increase will be offset by larger planes, the planemaker concedes, but even so, forecasts the world's airlines will more than double their passenger aircraft fleets of 100 seats or more, from some 13,300 today to some 28,550 in 2026.

"Air transportation is definitely a growing industry contributing to economic development and generating wealth around the world," said Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. "We are committed to being a key player in making this industry eco-efficient by providing the most technologically advanced products and responding with a full 'life-cycle approach."

Air freight is forecast to grow even faster, with freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) increasing annually by 5.8 percent. Combined with fleet renewal, this will create demand for some 3,800 freighter deliveries. Nearly 900 of them, worth $200 billion, will be new factory built, according to the planemaker.

Airbus says the greatest demand for passenger aircraft will be from the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for 31 percent of the total world demand for aircraft. It is followed by North America (27 percent) and Europe (24 percent).

Emerging markets are also driving traffic demand. While China and India will remain the largest, Airbus forecasts that some 30 additional emerging economies, including Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam, with a combined population of almost three billion people, will grow increasingly prominent by 2026.

More than 16,600 aircraft, or 68 percent of all deliveries in the next 20 years, will be single-aisle aircraft. Worth some $1.1 trillion, this represents 40 percent of all aircraft deliveries by value.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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