An insight into air travel in 2029: more eco-friendly planes, low-cost carriers

Airbus has predicted that the world will need some 25,000 new passenger aircraft over the next 20 years, suggesting that our love affair with flying isn't set to end soon.

In its annual Global Markets Forecast, the European aircraft manufacturer said that the number of passenger planes in use will double, from over 14,000 today to 29,000 aircraft by 2029.

It believes that the new aircraft will be needed as traditional markets such as those in Europe and North America upgrade to more eco-friendly models, as well as to service rapidly-growing emerging countries and new low-cost carriers, particularly in Asia.

It also predicted that within 20 years, airlines in Asia Pacific will carry one third of passenger traffic, overtaking 25 percent carried by Europe's airlines and 20 percent carried by North American airlines.

While the US internal market is like to remain the world's busiest in terms of traffic flow, Chinese domestic travel is expected to overtake European domestic traffic to take second place - seven out of the top 20 fastest growth flows connect China (PRC) to the rest of the world, Airbus said.

The firm also predicted further demand for very large aircraft such as its A380 superjumbo, which it said would increasingly be used to connect "mega" cities.

Airbus' John Leahy said that "people want and need to fly," pointing out that the recovery from the global economic crisis has been stronger than many predicted.

On November 14, the International Air Transport Association raised its prediction for passenger growth in 2010 to 8.9 percent from the 7.7 percent previously forecast.

It expects further growth next year, saying that passenger demand will rise by 5.2 percent compared to this year.

The biggest air traffic flows in 2029:

1. US Domestic
2. China Domestic
3. Western Europe domestic
4. US - Western Europe
5. China - Western Europe
6. South America - Western Europe
7. Asia - Western Europe

Source: Airbus Global Markets Forecast 2010 http://www.airbus.com

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