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Aviation embarks on decade of growth: Report

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Pent-up demand: Middle East fleet will expand by 4.5 per cent a year over the next decade as demand expected to climb back to pre-pandemic levels in 2023



After struggling with COVID-19 for more than two years, the aviation industry is set to rebound — with the fleet growing 4.5 pe r cent in the Middle East region over the next 10 years , according to Oliver Wyman’s Global Fleet & MRO Forecast 2022-2032. But as pent-up global demand pushes air travel to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, the industry will once again have to confront rising carbon dioxide emissions and its lack of immediate solutions to reduce them.

The widely anticipated report, now in its third decade, digs deep into commercial aircraft deliveries and inventories — as well as aerospace production — to provide a comprehensive view of the size and composition of the commercial fleet over the next decade. The outlook delineates growth both globally and from a regional perspective. Additionally, it analyzes the maintenance, repair, and overhaul services (MRO) that the fleet will require.

Key findings for the 2022-2032 report include:

• Long-term growth for the Middle East is forecast at 4.5 per cent annually, in part because of a strong narrow-body outlook.

• Globally, the fleet growth rate is set to grow to 38,100 aircraft by 2032 — a compound growth rate of 4.1 per cent over the decade.

• Narrow-body aircraft will make up a larger share of the fleet — 64 per cent in January 2032 versus 58 per cent in January 2020 — as the slow recovery of international traffic after COVID-19 is depressing the number of widebodies in service.

• With an influx of narrow-body aircraft expected, the widebody share of the fleet in the Middle East is expected to drop below 50 per cent, and by the end of the decade narrow-bodies will overtake widebodies as the largest class.

• In total, the Middle East region has almost 700 narrow-bodies on order through the end of the decade spread out among more than 15 operators

• The global fleet won’t reach its pre-pandemic peak of almost 28,000 until the first half of 2023

• The dedicated global cargo fleet grew 3 per cent and conversions of passenger aircraft to freight carriers broke records, thanks to a double-digit expansion in demand with the COVID-19-related explosion in online shopping and the loss of cargo belly capacity.

• The MRO sector is being redefined by a fleet in transition, as airlines begin to take delivery of new, highly fuel efficient narrow-bodies and attempt to weed out older aircrafts that will need intensive maintenance sessions.

• By 2030, MRO demand is expected to reach $118 billion, 13 per cent below the pre COVID-19 forecast of $135 billion, showing the lost growth from COVID-19.

“There is optimism that the industry has turned the corner and is now on an upward trajectory -- but the next 10 years will be filled with a multitude of challenges that will test the industry’s resilience unlike ever before,” said Andre Martins, Head of IMEA Transportation & Services, Oliver Wyman.

He added: "Of all the regions, the Middle East is the most dependent on the recovery of international travel to fill its widebodies. Before COVID-19, widebodies made up over 50 per cent of the Middle Eastern fleet versus only 21 per cent of the global fleet. Because of this dependence, the Middle East MRO market is not expected to recover until late 2024.”

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