Airbus A350 XWB

Airbus Sees Stronger Long-Term Aircraft Demand

Airbus A350 XWB

Airbus Group SE’s jetliner boss Fabrice Brégier said the European plane maker is poised to increase its outlook for aircraft deliveries over the next two decades, following rival Boeing Co. which has also raised its forecast.

Airbus’s new forecast, slated for release on Monday at the first day of the Paris Air Show, will show a market for 32,600 new planes, Mr. Brégier said at the Paris Air Forum symposium. That is up around 4% from the 31,358 jetliners in the plane maker’s previous outlook.

Boeing Co. said Thursday that near-term growth in airline traffic will sustain record jetliner production output as it projected a market of just over 38,000 planes valued at $5.6 trillion over the next 20 years compared with its previous forecast of around 37,000 jets worth $5.2 trillion. Boeing counts some smaller aircraft not included in the Airbus outlook.

For the fourth year running, Boeing said 20-year demand for the largest four-engine jets has fallen. Boeing’s 747-8 jumbo and the Airbus A380 superjumbo have been selling poorly in recent years. The U.S. plane maker now expects passenger and cargo airlines will only need 540 of the largest jets, down from the 620 forecast in 2014.

Mr. Brégier said he sees demand twice as large over the same period with Airbus well placed to capture what demand there is. “Even if Boeing is right, I am reasonably happy because they have stopped selling the 747-8,” he said.

Airbus also is exploring building an updated model of the A380 double-decker, dubbed the A380neo. Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders told the German publications Wirtschaftswoche a decision to build the improved plane could come toward year-end.

Mr. Brégier also said he sees a sustained trend to larger planes. That means when the plane maker replaces its A320 single-aisle yet, expected sometime around 2030, the new model would be slightly larger. It could feature a wider cabin and even twin-aisles, he said.

Demand for the current A320 remains strong. Airbus, planning to increase production to 50 of the jets a month from the current 42, may this year decide to ramp up production even more.

Mr. Brégier said that if additional production capacity were needed, the preference for the company to add it in Hamburg, Germany, where most of the single-aisle planes are built. Airbus also produces A320s in Toulouse, Tianjin, China, and is setting up a final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.

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