Last week, Airbus' Vice President Customer Affairs, Adam Brown was in The Netherlands to give a lecture on the future of air travel. The Dutch site, Luchtvaartnieuws, gives an extensive article (in Dutch) on his visit. I will sum up the translation.
The near future has a lot of good things in storage for Airbus. Adam Brown said that last year was a very good year in defeating Boeing in terms of delivered aircraft. Brown also expects this to happen for 2005. With the introduction of commercial flights of the A380 in 2006 and the launch of the A350, Airbus is confident.
Airbus and Boeing chose a different opinion on the future and growth of air travel. Airbus designed the A380, with a standard passenger capacity of 550 and Boeing introduced the B787 Dreamliner, which will be capable of carrying 220 passengers efficiently over long distances.
Adam Brown explained why Airbus had chosen for 'big'. Airbus expects that the amount of passengers that will be transported will multiply with 3 between 2005 en 2023. This massive amount of people need to be flown one way or another. Airbus thinks that airlines will choose the hub-and-spoke system. This system means that big airplanes like the A380 will fly between a relatively small amount of big airports like LHR, ORD, CDG, AMS, FRA, JFK, NRT, HKG. Smaller planes will transport these passengers to their onward destination. Boeing is aiming at a point-to-point system, which means that relatively small planes like the B787 will dominate the market. According to Adam Brown and Airbus, Boeings view is difficult to achieve.
Al those extra flights that will be created by the point-to-point system in order to cope with the massive amount of passengers can not be handled by the current system of airports around the world. Most of the big airports are already slot restrained and cope with strict environmental guidelines. Brown thinks that the slots need to be filled with the biggest planes.
Adam Brown also thinks that the low-cost airlines are in the best position to dominate the market. Statistics show that the criteria of passengers has shifted. According to numbers from the IATA, passengers choose to fly with an airline that can offer the cheapest ticket. A passenger is willing to wait longer for an onward connection when the price is lower.
The predicted growth also means that there is need for more planes. Brown gives his view on the worldwide airlinefleets in 2023. Today, 10.000 planes are in service. In 20 years about 5.100 are still in service, of which 3.500 have changed airlines. A number of 5.600 need replacement and the growth of the traffic will need 11.000 new planes. This means around 16.600 new planes between 2005 and 2023.
Airbus expects that most of these 16.600 planes will be single-aisle planes. About 66%. Airbus will be offering the A320-family. Small and medium double aisle planes will have a share of 19% and 8% of the market. Airbus will offer the A330, A340 and the last year launched A350.
The new A350 which will see it's first commercial flight in 2010 will be able to carry 245-285 passengers over great distances. Adam Brown said that the A350 was developed after requests from current A330 customers. Brown also said that it was nonsense that Airbus introduced the plane as a direct opponent for the B787. According to Brown the A350 had been on the drawing boards for a long time but the time was now right. He also said that Airbus was also very busy with the A380.
About 7,5% of the 2023 market will be in hands of the big planes like the A380. According to Airbus 1.250 big planes are needed to cope with the demand.
The A380 is also a big step forward for the freight business. The two biggest freight airlines in the world, FedEx and UPS already ordered the A380F before the first flight. Airbus expects that the A380F will be a big success. The A380F is capable of flying 150 tones of cargo, more than any other commercial plane for relatively low operating costs.
Airbus will also keep offering the A300-600F. On the question if there will ever be a A330F, Brown said that he couldn't give a answer yet. The A330 is currently offered as a tanker, so a pure freighter isn't unthinkable in the future according to Brown. However, the main focus is now on the A350 and the A380. Director of Freight Aircraft, Gerard Rhemrev also expressed that the A330 is designed for greater distances than the A300-600. There need to be a market for an A330F.
However, when someone out there is willing to pay the development costs for an A330F, he's more than welcome according to Brown.
Traditionally Airbus will be present at the Paris Air Show in June this year. He said the A380 will be present, but not for the whole duration of the show because of the tight schedule of test flights and the relatively good weather conditions in June to fly these. On questions if Airbus is going to present new orders at the show, Brown smiled an kept his mouth shut.
Well, that's it for now! You can see weather is bad here in The Netherlands, because I had plenty of time on this Sunday