Russia to account for three per cent of global airliner demand up to 2037

UAC market forecast Russian airlines’ demand for new aircraft is estimated at 1,290, predicts latest UAC global forecast (Irkut)

Russia’s demand for new passenger aircraft up to year 2037 is estimated at 1,290 units, with a collective value of as much as US$152 billion. This estimate represents less than three per cent of worldwide demand, which is projected at 43,600 aircraft worth over US$6 trillion, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) says in its latest 20-year global market forecast.

According to UAC’s estimates, by the end of 2017, Russian airlines’ collective fleet stood at 950 aircraft, of which some 270 will have been retired by 2037. Narrow-body airliners will command the highest demand and constitute 67 per cent of the new purchases, translating to 860 units. This market segment is the one UAC is targeting with its advanced MC-21 narrow-body airliner, which is currently undergoing tests.

The other aircraft market segment – in which the Russian manufacturer is represented with both its Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) product and its smaller SSJ75 sibling – is the regional jets sector, the demand for which in Russia is estimated at 200 pieces, or 16 per cent of the total new purchases.

In the wide-body segment, Russian airlines are expected to need 125 aircraft. UAC’s offer in this market is the CRAIC CR929, a project which is being developed jointly with China’s COMAC. Finally, around eight per cent, or some 100 aircraft, will be turboprops.

According to the research, the existing firm contracts placed by Russian airlines cover about 40 per cent unit-wise and 45 per cent cost-wise of their likely 20-year demand.

Notably, according to UAC, globally it is wide-body aircraft that will be the second most popular segment after narrow-body, and will be made up of 8,000 aircraft representing 40 per cent of the market at 2018 prices.

Currently the average age of aircraft operated by Russian airlines exceeds the global average, calculated as 14.7 against 10.8 years. This indicator is aggravated by the presence of the turboprop class that, in Russia, averages 32.7 years old against 15.8 globally.

According to the UAC forecast, by 2037 the share of traffic carried by narrow-body aircraft will climb to 58 per cent from the current 52, whilst the wide-body share will decrease from 44 per cent in 2017 to 38 in 2037. This trend is attributed partly to the advance of longer-range narrow-body types, such as the Airbus A321LR, which are steadily gaining in popularity with long haul, low-cost airlines.

The share of regional air travel is expected to shrink everywhere with the exception of China and the CIS. Notably, the CIS is also one of two regions where the narrow-body versus wide-body traffic trend will reverse. The share of traffic carried on narrow-body aircraft is expected to decrease from 67.5 to 61 per cent, whilst wide-bodies will carry 26.3 per cent, up from the current 20.6 per cent. The fleet of the CIS countries also ranks among the oldest in the world, the forecast notes.

Chinese airlines currently employ 3,434 aircraft, 80 per cent of which are narrow-bodies and 16 per cent wide-bodies, with their average age of just 5.9 years much lower than the world average of 10.8. China ranks fourth among regions with the highest demand for new aircraft. It is predicted that it will take 8,120 aircraft against 9,125 units for the Asia-Pacific region, with 8,720 for Europe and 8,540 for North America.

UAC timed the announcement of its forecast with the Zhuhai Airshow in China, mirroring the 20-year projections that the global planemakers prepared and presented at the UK’s Farnborough Airshow last summer. However, UAC is the only aircraft manufacturer that provides a dedicated estimate for Russia. Boeing and Airbus assess Russia and the CIS as a single market and most recently projected the region’s demand at 1,290 aircraft, representing three per cent of the world’s total of 42,730 units (Boeing forecast) and 1,221 aircraft with capacity of more than 100 seats for the total value of $175 billion (Airbus).

The passenger aircraft segment is “of major importance to UAC because, according to the long-term strategy, the corporation’s yield from the commercial sector is projected set to rise to 45 per cent of total sales, with a higher growth rate than any other segment,” the Russian manufacturer reveals.

According to the United Aircraft Corporation’s strategy approved in 2016, the share of commercial products in its portfolio is set to reach at least 40 per cent by 2025 and 45 per cent by 2035. Its ambition is to take at least 4.5 per cent of the global aircraft market by 2025 and maintain this level for a minimum of a further 10 years. UAC is curently being acquired by Russia’s state-owned hi-tec and aviation behemoth Rostec.

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