Middle East demand for new passenger aircraft over the next 20 years stands at about 3,240 aircraft, according to Bob Lange, Airbus senior v-p, business analysis and market forecast. Some 1,080 of these, or 33 percent, are replacement aircraft, with the rest new, growth-driven deliveries.
In terms of the fleet serving the UAE, whether locally domiciled or foreign, 1,730 aircraft will be required by 2038, including 790 large, 185 medium, and 750 small aircraft. Lange said the A321XLR and the A330neo are included in the medium category, while the A350 and A380 are considered large.
Based on information from Airbus's Global Market Forecast for 2019, Lange said that the strongest growth markets, in terms of origin-destination passengers to and from the UAE, will be between the UAE and the Asia-Pacific region, and UAE and Africa. He also looked at continent-to-continent data.
“When we project 20 years out, you'll see the growth multipliers and you'll see the fastest-growing markets will be the Middle East to Asia-Pacific, [chiefly] China, but also the Middle East to Africa, which will overtake Europe as being the third-strongest market from the Middle East in 20 years’ time,” he said.
The number of what Airbus calls "aviation mega-cities" in the Middle East will double to 11, with the addition of Muscat, Tehran, Kuwait City, Manama, Riyadh, and Medinah by 2038. To date, Doha and Dubai see more than 50,000 passengers per day, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul 20,000, and Jeddah over 10,000. Airbus defines an aviation mega-city as one that sees throughput in excess of 10,000 passengers a day.
“We expect the number of cities reaching that threshold in the next 20 years to double and become more distributive,” he said.
Traffic to, from, and within the Middle East is expected to grow by a factor of 2.9, with domestic Turkish, domestic Saudi, and UAE-to-India routes the biggest drivers. “The largest growth market from UAE will be UAE to India,” he said. “We've already seen the signs of [growth] in aircraft operations today, and of course domestic Saudi Arabia is a very strong market.”
Lange said population growth will slow in the region, from 2.1 percent a year in the two decades to 2018, to 1.2 percent in the following 20 years. That means the Middle East population will reach around 450 million in 2038, up from just over 350 million today. Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan are likely to account for 63 percent of the region’s population growth over the next 20 years.