The world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers see no slowdown in aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years.
A 4.5% annual worldwide rate of air traffic growth is being forecast by Airbus over the next two decades.
Airlines will require some 33,000 new passenger and dedicated freighter aircraft valued at $5.2 trillion over the period to 2035.
Rival Boeing released a more optimistic demand for 39,620 aircraft worth $5.9 trillion over the same period.
Randy Tinselth, marketing vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “Despite recent events that have impacted the financial markets, the aviation sector will continue to see long-term growth with the commercial fleet doubling in size.
“We expect to see passenger traffic grow 4.8% a year over the next two decades.”
Airbus said the strong growth was being fuelled by rising demand in emerging markets, which contain middle classes that are expected to double over the next 20 years to a total size of 3.5 billion people, according to a global market forecast made by the European manufacturer at the Farnborough Airshow.
Chief operating officer, customers, John Leahy said: “The world population is getting wealthier, and it is getting more disposable income. That is driving demand for air traffic.”
A trend towards higher-capacity aircraft is projected by Airbus, with a requirement for more than 9,500 widebody and freighter aircraft over the next two decades – valued at some $2.8 trillion.
This total represents 29% of all new aircraft deliveries, and 54% by value. The company forecasts a need for more than 23,500 new single-aisle aircraft such as the A320, worth $2.4 trillion.
Boeing sees strong demand for 28,140 single-aisle aircraft driven by low cost carriers and emerging markets.
However, the US plane maker expects fewer widebody orders totalling 9,100, with a continued shift from very large aircraft to small and medium types such as the 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 777X.
The forecasts came as Airbus confirmed an order for 12 A350-1000 ‘extra widebody’ aircraft from Virgin Atlantic, with eight being purchased and four leased, with deliveries starting in 2019.
Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, praised the aircraft’s environmental benefits, operating efficiency and advanced construction, which includes more than 50% composite material in its airframe.
“Virgin Atlantic has been around for some 30 years, and I think the A350 will ensure that it is around in 30 years’ time,” he said.
Airbus also secured orders at the first day of the Farnborough Airshow for ten A320s from JetStar Pacific Airlines of Vietnam and up to four A330-900neos from Arkia Israeli Airlines.
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