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Airbus: North America needs 400 new freighters by 2031

By control on December 2, 2011

As the demand for cargo in North America increases over the next 20 years, executives at Airbus see the need for around 400 new freighters. But this all-cargo bump is almost nothing compared to the expected demand of 6,315 passenger-plane deliveries laid out in the company’s global market forecast. The combined price tag for these planes should surpass the $645 billion mark, according to current prices.

The North American aspect of Airbus’ global market forecast was explained in detail Thursday by Airbus’ COO, customers, John Leahy, in a conference call.

“Air traffic tends to follow GDP growth around the world,” he said, suggesting that if we’re heading into some hard times, air traffic will plummet. Most industry analysts are convinced that 2012 will start slowly, but that things should pick up during the last half of the year. Judging by Airbus' forecast, growth will then continue for the foreseeable future.

But North American GDP isn’t the only measure of how well airfreight will fare in the future, Leahy said during the call. The distance between the mature and emerging economies will also affect airplane demand. As the recession hit, GDP in the emerging economies — Latin America, India, China and other Asia-Pacific countries — ascended, just as GDP in the mature economies went down.

As with most of the industry's recent history, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region will be the areas that will drive growth in the future. While all are essentially equal today in terms of traffic distribution, he said, regional activity will shift in the next 20 years. Leahy predicted that North American activity will eventually rank a distant third to “the big gorilla on the block,” the Asia-Pacific region. But North American activity, and thus aircraft demand, will still increase, with two of the major drivers being the replacement of aircraft and economic growth.

For Airbus, air travel remains a growth market, with all traffic doubling in the next 15 years. According to a company press release, “Overall, the market for passenger aircraft in North America is expected to grow by 66 percent over the next 20 years. The growth for dedicated freighters in the region is even greater, with a growth rate in the same period of some 80 percent.  Globally, by 2030, some 27,800 new aircraft valued at $3.5 trillion will be required to satisfy the robust future market demand.”

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