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37,390 new aircraft and 540,000 new pilots needed by 2038

Airbus' new Global Market Forecast 2018-2037 reveals that the world's passenger fleet will more than double to 48,000 aircraft in 20 years with traffic growing at a resilient 4.4% per year, driving a need for 37,390 new passenger and freighter aircraft.
Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

Growth drivers

Growth drivers include private consumption increasing 2.4 times in emerging economies, higher disposable incomes and a near doubling of the middle classes globally.

Emerging countries will reportedly account for over 60% of economic growth, with trips per capita to multiply 2.5 times for these nations. Combined with evolving airline business models and continuing liberalisation, the growing scale of air transportation will lead to an increased resilience to regional slowdowns.

According to the company, greater aircraft range and capacity through technological developments allow airlines the flexibility to explore new business opportunities whilst maintaining focus on cost reduction.

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“There is a growing trend to use aircraft across a broader range of operations, with today’s more capable aircraft blurring the boundaries between market segments. These realities made us develop a new segmentation with small, medium, large and extra-large categories, reflecting more closely the way airlines operate aircraft,” said Eric Schulz, Airbus chief commercial officer.


Looking at the four segmentations more closely, in the small segment typically covering the space where most of today’s single-aisle aircraft compete, there is a forecast future requirement for 28,550 new aircraft, representing more than three-quarters of total expected demand.

In the medium segment, for missions requiring additional capacity and range flexibility, represented by smaller widebodies and longer-range single-aisle aircraft, Airbus forecasts demand for 5,480 passenger and freight aircraft.

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For additional capacity and range flexibility, in the large segment where most A350s are present today, there is a need for 1,760 aircraft.

In the extra-large segment, typically reflecting high capacity and long-range missions by the largest aircraft types including the A350-1000 and the A380, Airbus forecasts demand for 1,590 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Need for 540,000 new pilots

Of the 37,390 new aircraft required, 26,540 are for growth and 10,850 will replace older generation less fuel-efficient aircraft.

The more than doubling in the world fleet to 48,000 aircraft results in a need for 540,000 new pilots.
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