Growth is in the air: Airbus reports double the number of aircraft needed by 2041
- September 1, 2022: Vol. 9, Number 8

Growth is in the air: Airbus reports double the number of aircraft needed by 2041

by Frank Holmes

The world will need to more than double the number of passenger and freighter aircraft by 2041 to meet demand, according to the latest outlook from Airbus. The giant European aerospace company says that nearly 47,000 aircraft will be in service by 2041, up about 105 percent from the 22,880 aircraft that were in service at the beginning of 2020.

Only a small percentage of these older jets and planes will remain in the air 20 years from now, Airbus predicts, meaning a vast majority of them will need to be replaced to comply with stricter emissions standards. Today, only around 20 percent of the total global fleet is represented by next-generation fuel efficient aircraft; by 2041, this figure will be above 95 percent, Airbus says.

The lion’s share of the growth is projected to occur in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region, followed by North America, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which includes former Soviet states.

Compared to passenger aircraft, freighters make up a relatively small percentage of the global fleet. However, as international trade is expected to double over the next 20 years, the number of freighter aircraft that can carry more than 10 tons will need to increase to more than 3,000 by 2041, up from a little more than 2,000 today.

With inflation running rampant at the moment, and a recession imminent, it may seem doubtful to some that trade could double in 20 years. Nevertheless, we’re already seeing the value of internationally traded goods and services soar to new heights. In the first quarter of 2022, global trade hit a record high of $7.7 trillion, according to just-released data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Granted, a big part of this increase in value is due to elevated prices, but I expect to see fresh new quarterly records over time as the size of the global middle class continues to expand.

Passenger traffic is also projected to more than double over the next 20 years, Airbus says, necessitating the need for thousands of new and improved aircraft. Between 2019 and 2041, world traffic is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.6 percent and may eventually top a head-spinning 20 trillion revenue passenger kilometers.

You only thought airports were crowded now.

It’s for this reason that travel hubs will need to be expanded and updated.

U.S.-based Boeing, chief competitor to Airbus, reported stellar delivery results for the second quarter. One hundred twenty-one aircraft were delivered in the three months that ended June 30, bringing the year-to-date figure to 216 aircraft. Boeing delivered 51 planes in June alone, making it the company’s best month since March 2019.


Frank Holmes is CEO and CIO of U.S. Global Investors. The original version of this story appeared on the company website at this link:


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