By Tim Hepher
LONDON (Reuters) – Airbus on Wednesday revised up forecasts for jetliner demand over the next 20 years, led by growth in the new industrial hubs of Asia despite short-term concerns over global trade tensions.
The European planemaker said the world’s fleet of passenger jets and freighters would more than double to 47,680 aircraft by 2038.
That is slightly less than the size of the future fleet Airbus had anticipated in a comparable forecast a year ago, as airlines squeeze more productivity out of their aircraft.
But the demand for new jets needed to reach that total has been revised upwards because Airbus believes airlines will replace a greater proportion of jets than previously thought.
Airbus said it now expects airlines and leasing companies to take delivery of 39,210 new passenger jets and freighters over the next two decades compared to 37,389 previously forecast.
Airbus expects 36% of these new deliveries to replace existing aircraft with the rest slated to meet growth in demand, with traffic expected roughly to double over 15 years.
A year ago, Airbus had predicted that just 29% of future deliveries would be replacing existing jets.
Airbus however trimmed its forecast for average traffic growth to 4.3% a year from 4.4% in its previous report.
Airline industry statistics show traffic is growing but at a slower rate this year amid international trade tensions.
Airbus shares eased 0.3% in a fractionally weaker market.
The planemaker revised up its forecast for the industry’s best-selling single-aisle jets by 4% to 29,720 planes but cut the medium segment including its A330neo by 2% to 5,370.
It followed U.S. rival Boeing (NYSE:) in scrapping separate forecasts for the world’s largest four-engined aircraft such as the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747. Airbus decided in February to halt production of the double-decker A380 due to weak demand.
It now includes these aircraft with the largest twin-engined jets such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777, with the resulting combined category up by an implied 22% to 4,120 aircraft.
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