Airbus hikes 20-year plane demand forecast
By Brenda Goh and Tim Hepher
LONDON (Reuters) - Airbus EAD.PA raised its long-term jet demand forecast on Tuesday, saying the world would need to double its fleet as cities expand and Asia's increasingly affluent middle class takes to the skies.
The European planemaker said airlines, lessors and cargo operators would need a total of 29,226 new passenger and freighter jets worth $4.4 trillion over the next 20 years.
Its latest forecast includes 28,355 passenger jets, up 3.7 percent from its previous estimate a year ago, and 871 freighters, up 1.6 percent.
The world's second largest planemaker behind rival Boeing (BA.N: Quote) insisted urban population growth would help drive demand for its flagship A380 superjumbo, but acknowledged that recently weak sales had left a "couple" of open slots in 2015 production.
Sales chief John Leahy said he would announce some new plane orders on Wednesday in China, the world's fastest growing aviation market, which is set to leapfrog the United States as an aviation market.
"In 20 years the number one market will not be the U.S., the number one market is internally within China," Leahy told a news conference.
One in four people from China travelled by plane last year; that number will rise to virtually the whole active population in the next two decades, he said.
Asia's economic performance, and the projected emergence of three billion new middle class consumers globally with some disposable income, are the main ingredients of higher demand forecasts from both Airbus and rival Boeing in recent months. Continued...