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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 19:44 GMT
Airbus predicts air travel boom
Airbus' John Leahy gestures at a model of the A380
Mr Leahy says aviation is a growing industry
European plane maker Airbus expects global passenger traffic to grow at an average of 4.9% a year, almost trebling over the next two decades.

It forecasts that 24,300 passenger and freight aircraft worth $2.8 trillion will be ordered between now and 2026.

Average industry deliveries will be 1,215 aircraft a year, up from 1,130 in Airbus' last global market forecast.

It says demand will be greatest in Asia Pacific, which will account for 31% of orders, followed by North America.

"Air transportation is definitely a growing industry contributing to economic development and generating wealth around the world," said Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy.

"We are committed to being a key player in making this industry eco-efficient by providing the most technologically advanced products."

Sticky patch

Airbus has been through a sticky patch recently with costly production problems affecting its flagship jumbo A380, the world's largest passenger plane which made its first commercial flight late in 2007.

AIRBUS FORECASTS
24,300 new passenger and freight aircraft by 2026
Passengers to grow 4.3% a year
Freight to grow 5.8% a year
World passenger aircraft fleet to total 28,550 by 2026
1,215 aircraft deliveries a year
Source: Airbus

In addition, its earnings have suffered as a result of the weak US dollar.

It conceded defeat to Boeing in the battle for new orders during 2007, but said it had beaten its US rival on deliveries.

Airbus reported 1,341 net new orders of commercial aircraft, 72 less than Boeing. However, Airbus delivered 453 aircraft compared with Boeing's 441.

Airbus said that environmental constraints and limits on airport infrastructure will create more demand for aircraft that seat more than 400 passengers.

It expects orders for aircraft like the A380 to total 1,700 in its two-decade forecast period.

Orders for twin-aisle aircraft, which seat from 250 to 400 passengers, will total 6,000.

However, smaller single-aisle aircraft will make up the bulk of orders - around 16,600 between now and 2026, according to Airbus forecasts.



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