Air Transport World

Airbus: 10,000 jets by century's end. (Airbus Industrie)

London-Airbus industrie, in its most recent forecast of the market for jet airliners, says that the prospects for aircraft manufacturing over the coming 20 years, "remain encouraging." The world's airlines are at the height of a buying circle, with more than 3,000 aircraft ordered but not yet delivered. A large percentage of the recent order wave was for narrowbody aircraft, confirming earlier forecasts for the replacement peak of first generation jets. The surge in widebody orders was influenced largely by continued traffic growth, coupled with increasing congestion problems on the ground and in the air. As a result of the latter, it could be predicted that widebody aircraft would be increasingly in demand during the 1990s and beyond. "As a consequence, average aircraft size, which now stands at 167 seats, will increase to 230 seats by the end of the forecast period," the forecast said. Growth of 5%, 7% RPK growth over the next 20 years is expected to be in the range of 5% a year, while it predicted that freight tonne-kms will increase at a worldwide rate two percentage points higher. This growth will create a global jet fleet of 1 0,000 aircraft by the turn of the century and almost 13,000 by the year 2008. Airbus said it considers that the current order flow will not continue at the rate that the industry enjoyed during recent years. Nevertheless, 12,000 new aircraft will be delivered to the airlines through to the year 2008, to satisfy traffic growth and to replace aircraft that will have reached the end of their structural or economic lives. Deliveries will be split almost equally between narrowbody and widebody aircraft. "Despite strong variations in the airlines' annual order volumes, the average yearly delivery rate for new civil-jet aircraft will be in the order of 500-600 aircraft for the next 20 years. This is equivalent to a total investment value of around $700 billion, in 1989 terms." Airbus Industrie remains confident that the air-transport industry has a healthy future. …

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