Complex Made Simple

Billions invested, regional aircraft demand soaring

Age is an important factor in an aircraft’s life. With more hours in the air and parts being replaced, there comes a time when the bird has to retire. The mother goose has other plans. More birds are to fly the nest.

Airbus is one of the manufacturers aiming for an aerodynamic transition into future aviation markets, especially in the Middle East.

According to the Airbus Global Market Forecast, the fleet size of operators will grow from 1,250 to 3,320 aircraft over the next two decades.

“The Middle East will need some 2,590 new aircraft by 2036, for replacement of 520 older generation aircraft, and 2,070 aircraft for growth, 730 are expected to remain in service over the period. This demand includes 1,080 for twin-aisle aircraft, with the same number of single-aisle aircraft (1,080), and 430 very large aircraft,” it said.

The forecast provided a dollar value reaching $600bn in the region, from a global $5.3trn.

“The current orders from Middle East-based carriers stand at 1,319 aircraft, of which 687 are single-aisle, 409 twin-aisle and 162 very large aircraft.”

The size of the fleet will be bolstered by increased travellers to, from and within the Middle East, which the forecast estimated will increase 5.9 per cent annually until 2036, beating the global average by 1.5 per cent.

“Thanks to the A350, the A380 and also the A320 Family, most people around the world are just one flight away from the Middle East. The region’s proximity to the world’s population and growth markets has been a key in its aviation success and Airbus is proud to have been a partner in its development from day one,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

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What do major regional fleets boast?

According to an industry news portal, the MRO-Network, as of the Q1 of 2017, flydubai’s fleet comprises 25 owned and 32 leased Boeing 737-800s. Etihad Airways operates 120 aircraft made up of 22 Airbus A320-200s, 19 A330-200s and 19 Boeing 777-300ERs.

Saudi Arabian Airlines has a total of 182 aircraft with 39 Airbus A320-200s, 30 Boeing 777-300ERs and 15 Embraer 170s. Emirates has 261 total aircraft, including 128 Boeing 777-300ERs and 92 Airbus A380-800s. Finally, Turkish Airlines’ fleet consists of 299 total aircraft, including 77 Boeing 737-800s, 66 Airbus A321-200s and 32 Boeing 777-300ERs.

Read: Post-sanctions deals: Third Airbus plane arrives in Iran

The Boeing outlook

According to a report by Boeing entitled Outlook-2017, low oil prices have led to a decrease in business travel for regional airlines. However, it says that, over the coming 20 years, the Middle East will account for 65 per cent of the global economy, worth a $730bn market blessed with emerging market opportunities and balanced hubs.

“Less dramatic but similarly robust growth is projected for other emerging markets near the Middle East, notably Southeast Asia and Africa. Increasing demand for travel to and from these regions is a key factor supporting Boeing’s forecast for the region, 3,350 airplane deliveries over 20 years,” Boeing said in its report.

The report projects the delivery of 1,770 single-aisle aircraft or a 53 per cent growth, 590 small-body planes or 18 per cent increase, and 910 medium/large widebody planes or 27 per cent growth.

Greater air traffic demand

According to a report by global management consultants Oliver Wyman titled “2017 – 2027 Fleet & MRO Forecast”, the Middle East in 2017 has 709 wide body and 516 narrow body planes. By 2027, these numbers will have grown to 1,325 and 841 respectively.

“Both Airbus and Boeing predict nearly five per cent annual growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) over the next 20 years. Growth will be seen most prominently in the Middle East and Asia, where annual RPKs are expected to grow roughly 6 per cent per year on average,” said the report.

Another important gage is fleet age.

“The Middle East and Africa will see a decrease in fleet age as new aircraft replace older ones. The Middle East is expected to add nearly $4.4bn in MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) demand and will constitute nine per cent of the global MRO market by 2027.”

Read: Emirates places Dubai at the center of global travel