Airbus A380
The pace of growth is dominated by India, whose domestic market is seen growing by an average 6.6% a year over the next two decades. Image Credit: AP

Paris: Europe’s Airbus has revised up its forecast for jet deliveries over the next 20 years as soaring fuel bills prompt airlines to speed up taking delivery of new, more fuel-efficient planes.

Despite the war in Ukraine and a spike in inflation, Airbus edged up its average forecast for annual GDP growth to 2.6 per cent from 2.5 per cent in its latest 20-year outlook published on Monday.

But it saw passenger traffic growing more slowly than before, by 3.6 per cent a year rather than 3.9 per cent forecast in November.

That’s partly the result of higher energy and carbon prices that push up fares and which Airbus now builds into forecasts, citing regional disparities in the cost of sustainable fuels.

But it believes a spike in energy costs will also encourage many airlines to accelerate deliveries of fuel-saving models.

Airbus predicts total deliveries of 39,490 jets over the next 20 years, up from 39,020 forecast previously.

The increase is partly due to 2021 dropping out of the rolling 20-year forecast period, an exceptionally weak year depressed by the pandemic.

It expects deliveries to include 38,600 passenger jets - up from 38,140 previously forecast - and 890 freighters, up from 880.

Demand from Asia, which has been a driving force in aerospace for over a decade, is fractionally lower than in the planemaker’s previous forecast. But it still makes up 45 per cent of the projected 20-year deliveries at 17,580 passenger and cargo jets.

For the second time in three years, Airbus has changed the way it breaks down jet demand, this time into two categories - “typically single-aisle” which includes its A320neo or Boeing’s 737 MAX and accounts for 31,620 projected deliveries, and “typically wide-body” jets which account for 7,870 units.

It had previously tracked “small, medium and large” sizes.

China remains poised to overtake the US as the world’s busiest aviation market in coming years.

But the pace of growth is dominated by India, whose domestic market is seen growing by an average 6.6 per cent a year over the next two decades, more than three times the US average of 2.1 per cent.

The Indian Subcontinent is also home to the fastest growing air freight markets, with traffic to or from both China and the United States expected to grow by at least 7.3 per cent a year.

About half the world’s cargo by value goes by air and the sector has been booming as companies shore up supply chains.

Airbus sees freight traffic growing on average by 3.2 per cent a year.