Airbus Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: European plane-maker Airbus predicted that the aviation industry would require around 39,000 aircraft in the next 20 years. This will create demand for more than 550,000 new pilots and over 710,000 highly-skilled technicians, it said.

The demand for new aircraft will include around 29,700 small aircraft like the A220 and A320 aircraft, as well as about 5,300 in the medium aircraft category such as the A321XLR and the A330neo. In the large segment, covered by the A350, demand for some 4,000 deliveries is expected by 2040.

“We're now towards the end of 2021 and we project the corridor of recovery in global worldwide traffic, that sees us back to pre-COVID levels, sometime between 2023 and 2025,” said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International, during a media briefing ahead of the Dubai Airshow on Sunday.

Cargo demand, boosted by e-commerce, is driven by an expected growth in express freight of 4.7 per per year and a general cargo growth of 2.7 per cent. Over the next 20 years there will be a need for some 2,440 freighters, of which 880 will be new-build, said Airbus.

‘Frenzy’ will not last

The recent spike in cargo demand will not last very long, said Scherer.

Prior to the pandemic, roughly half of the world’s air cargo was carried in the belly space in the lower decks of passenger aircraft. When that space suddenly disappeared due to the pandemic, there was a “bit of a frenzy towards a dedicated freighter aircraft,” said the Airbus executive. “I think it has been short lived”

Fewer cancellations

In response to a media query, Scherer said that aircraft order cancellations brought on by the pandemic may have peaked as air traffic gradually recovers.

“We see the traffic is recovering pretty much on the same curve that we've experienced over the last few months,” said Scherer. “Governments have stepped in because they see this fundamental wealth creation that aviation represents … the owners of the airlines that were so terribly hit by COVID stood behind their investments and have continued to put capital into their hands.”

“The financial markets were liquid enough to refinance airplanes or help aircraft take delivery of aircraft,” he added.