Domestic air travel in China will double the number of jet planes soaring around the world in the next 20 years, Airbus S.A.S.’s (EPA:EAD) chief operating officer said Tuesday.
The company will require 29,220 new passenger and freight jets -- worth an estimated $4.4 trillion -- to replace existing planes with more efficient ones, marking an increase from last year’s forecast predicting that 28,200 were needed by 2031.
That includes 28,355 passenger planes. And, like much of the world’s economic growth, China is driving the uptick.
But it’s not just Chinese businesspeople flying abroad.
As more Chinese migrate from the country’s inner provinces to its booming coastal cities -- where they earn enough to join the middle class -- more of them fly home to visit relatives.
“In 20 years, the No. 1 domestic market by far will be domestic China; it’s quite a shift,” John Leahy, Airbus’ operating chief, said during an appearance on CNBC Tuesday morning.
Leahy suggested looking at the queues -- or “Congo lines” as he described them -- in New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey estimates that more than 1,000 flights lift off or land at the airport daily, according to its website.
“Economic growth, growing middle classes, affordability, ease of travel, urbanization, tourism and migration are some factors increasing connectivity of people and regions and how often they travel,” Airbus said in a press release.
And by 2032, Leahy said the Asia-Pacific region will overtake Europe and North America in air traffic.
“Today, on average, a fifth of the population of the emerging markets take a flight annually,” he said, “and by 2032, this will swell to two-thirds.”