MIAMI — Airbus continues to maintain a super-sized forecast for its super-sized jumbo jet, the A380, as it presented  its 20-year market outlook at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference.

The two aerospace manufacturers see largely eye to eye on total frames needed, with Airbus forecasting a need for 31,358 aircraft through 2033. Most of that comes from the single-aisle, narrowbody, which Airbus projects will account for 22,071 of the total.

Widebodies, not including very-large-aircraft (VLA), come out to 7,786. The figures include freighters, though Simon Pickup, strategic marketing director of Airbus Americas, said it only expected 800 or so to enter the cargo world.

But the starkest difference comes from the VLA market, i.e., the company’s own A380 superjumbo jet and Boeing’s 747-8. Airbus continues to forecast a need for 1,501 such jets — twice what its rival says the market can sustain. It bases the need not just on its traffic forecast, which is nearly identical to Boeing’s, but in its interpretation. It sees 99 percent of long-haul traffic consolidating among nearly 100 international trunk-routes by 2033, which will necessitate larger aircraft to meet a growing demand limited by maxed-out, slot-restricted airports.

A Korean Air A380 on the production line. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.
A Korean Air A380 on the production line. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.

Pickup didn’t hesitate to wade into the Boeing 757 replacement discussion, either, particularly as its rival only yesterday said it had no current plans to replace the jet. Airbus’ solution is the A321neoLR, expected to debut later this decade with lessor ALC. Once in service, the airplane will “start to do some of things the 757 used to do,” said Pickup, including routes from North America to northern and western Europe, as well as Europe to West Africa, and others.

The A321neo was already seriously outselling its nearest competitor, Boeing’s 737-MAX9 jet. Pickup said sales of Airbus’ largest single-aisle airplane have ballooned to 73 percent of the total market, “in large part because of better performance, and its slightly bigger.”

Combine that with the consistent upgauging trend among carriers and the company says it is beginning to see a swing away from the current dominant family member, the A320, toward the 321. The larger jet’s share of the A320 family orders has been steadily increasing, rising from 10 percent in 2006 to 31 percent in 2014.

In either case, the majority of the growth is expected in the South Asia/Asia-Pacific region, as both continue to see increases in expendable cash that lead to more travelers.

Separately, Pickup said Airbus was on track to deliver its first A320neo to Qatar Airways by the end of the year. It also projected delivering 15 of its new A350 jet, adding Finnair, LATAM, and Vietnam as new carriers.

Its new A330neo, which Pickup says will beat Boeing’s 787 on seat-cost performance, remains on target for a 2017 introduction — but which model of Dreamliner Pickup was referring to wasn’t clear.

 

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