Airbus 20-year forecast predicts massive shift in freighter demand

Airbus has drastically drawn down the number of dedicated freighters it anticipates being in service 20 years hence, according to its recently released “Global Market Forecast, 2016-2035.” The disparity is remarkable, both terms of number of aircraft and the shift in the market that it signals over the next two decades.

While last year’s global forecast for 2015 to 2034 anticipated an increase in dedicated freighters from 1,633 in 2014 to 2,687 in 2034 – a 65 percent rise – this year’s projections are curtailed by 21.5 percent, compared to the previous report. This time around, the European aviation giant predicted an increase from 1,560 dedicated freighters to only 2,110 – a 35 percent increase over the twenty-year period. Total new freighter deliveries for of 645 units over the next two decades reflect this shift, down 159 freighters from last year’s predictions.

Over the course of a year, Airbus’s predictions have shifted incrementally, moving towards a larger increase in bellyhold capacity. They also took into account a slightly dimmer outlook for the global economy during the 20-year period. That said, taken individually, neither prediction represents a dramatic shift in outlook, year-over-year. The 21.5 percent decline, however, represents a much more dramatic change in outlook than the extant data substantiates.

The global forecast also included freight traffic predictions for the next two decades. Of 170 routes analyzed by Airbus, a number show significant promise. Domestic India, for example, is forecast to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9 percent. Domestic China is also looking at an impressive 5.8 percent CAGR. Meanwhile, North America-Japan is looking at a lackluster 1 percent CAGR for the same time period.

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