Cirium: US$2.8 trillion will be spent on new aircraft by 2039 despite COVID-19 restricting travel

Engine flying hours will also fall by 45 percent in 2020 to 94 million, compared to 170 million in 2019

Airlines around the world, including Cathay, had to ground thousands of planes at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneThe world will need US$2.8 trillion worth of new aircraft over the next 20 years, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reducing deliveries of new aircraft during 2020, according to the 2020 Cirium Fleet Forecast released late last year.

The report predicts that 43,315 new passenger and freighter aircraft will be delivered between 2020 and 2039, representing an 8 percent drop compared to the 20-year outlook in the 2019 Cirium Fleet Forecast and includes some 4,600 fewer deliveries in the next decade.

Chris Seymour, Ascend by Cirium head of Market Analysis, said: “Following 10 consecutive years of uninterrupted demand growth, the 2020 COVID-19 crisis has led to a dramatic reduction in global traffic and record industry losses. Worldwide deliveries during 2020 are expected to be 45 percent lower than in 2019. However, the numbers will gradually recover and surpass the previous peak (in 2018) during 2025, assuming traffic bounces back as predicted.”

Engine flying hours will also fall by 45 percent in 2020 to 94 million, compared to 170 million in 2019. However, the use of more efficient aircraft this year means that total CO2 emissions are likely to be down by 50 percent. Over the next 20 years, total engine flying hours will increase to 310 million.

The Ascend by Cirium forecast team changed its traditional forecast methodologies and adopted a scenario-based approach – specifically for the 2020-2024 period. The recovery scenario in the forecast assumes that traffic will level off at 60-70 percent down on 2019 during the winter of 2020/21, before recovering slowly until 2024, when 2019 traffic levels are achieved once again.

Asian markets will be the growth engine for the global aviation industry during the next two decades, the report forecast. China looks to be the biggest single destination for new commercial and passenger aircraft deliveries between 2020 and 2039, with a 22 percent share – one point ahead of the rest of Asia combined.

Airbus and Boeing are expected to remain the two largest commercial aircraft manufacturers (OEMs), between them delivering an estimated 77 percent of aircraft and 86 percent by value through 2039. In the passenger market, single-aisle jets will account for 67 percent of deliveries and 54 percent of delivery value, with the core of this US$1.5 trillion market continuing to be the 150-seat size, typified by the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 Max 8. The US$1.1 trillion twin-aisle market will focus on 787s and A350s, with “mid-sized” 250-300 seaters taking almost two-thirds of delivery value. Twin-aisle supply will remain the last duopoly in the commercial sector until the turn of the decade.

Reaching the forecast traffic growth will require the global passenger fleet to increase by just over 20,000 units. That equates to a 2.9 percent annual growth rate, taking the fleet to some 47,000 aircraft by the end of 2039. This still represents a reduction of some 5,000 aircraft (10 percent) over the numbers forecast in the 2019 Cirium Fleet Forecast, reflecting the loss of growth during the post-pandemic years. The single-aisle fleet will grow faster at 3.5 percent annually, against 2.7 percent for twin-aisles due to long-haul traffic taking longer to recover. The regional aircraft fleet will grow more modestly at just over 1 percent.

About 82 percent of the current fleet is forecast to be retired from passenger service during the 20-year period, with 74 percent for the freighters, which have longer economic useful lives. Overall there will be over 21,600 retirements. The freighter fleet will grow at almost 2 percent annually to reach 4,100 aircraft.

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