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Airbus Forecast: Asia-Pacific Air Traffic Set For Takeoff

Airbus hopes the global growth in air traffic will fuel demand for its giant A380.
Eric Feferberg
AFP/Getty Images
Airbus hopes the global growth in air traffic will fuel demand for its giant A380.

There will be more passenger flights in the Asia-Pacific than anywhere else in the world in the next 20 years, with the region accounting for a third of all new commercial aircraft orders, according to Airbus's latest Global Market Forecast.

The report by the European aircraft maker, released Tuesday, says more than 29,350 new passenger and freighter aircraft will be needed to meet global demand in the next two decades, a period of time that will see a doubling of the worldwide fleet.

"By 2032, Asia-Pacific will lead the world in traffic overtaking Europe and North America," said John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers at Airbus.

"Today on average, a fifth of the population of the emerging markets take a flight annually and by 2032, this will swell to two thirds," he said in a news release accompanying the report. "The attraction of air travel means that passenger numbers will more than double from today's 2.9 billion, to 6.7 billion by 2032, clearly demonstrating aviation's essential role in economic growth."

Airbus says the new aircraft orders will be worth $4.1 trillion. The report points to a 25 percent growth in the size of average passenger aircraft in the past 20 years as a trend that will continue, fueling demand for its largest plane, the A380.

Shorter-haul flights will also rise strongly, with domestic routes in India growing at the fastest rate — nearly 10 percent, it says.

Aribus' chief rival, U.S.-based Boeing, said in a similar Long-Term Market forecast that it expects demand for the 20-year period from 2013-2032 to be at 35,280 aircraft, valued at $4.8 trillion. Boeing believes the largest growth area will be for single-aisle aircraft to service domestic routes in China.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.