Commercial Market Outlook 2020–2039

Our long-term outlook is informed by decades of analysis and insights into airline strategies and passenger demand, including how the industry has responded to market shocks. Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, the picture remains dynamic and still subject to many unknowns, from the trajectory of the virus and potential vaccines or therapies to economic recovery regionally and globally. As we see it today, the near-term impacts have become visible but key long-term growth drivers remain as well. Our forecast will no doubt be updated next summer, as it is every year, but reflects a combination of the unprecedented near-term industry disruption and the long-term resilience we have seen for decades.

Near Term: Demand Focused on Fleet Renewal

Over the last decade, growth in passenger air travel averaged 6.5% per year, well above the long-term average of 5%. In this business environment, many of the world’s airlines grew their fleets through deliveries of new airplanes and often delayed airplane retirements to accommodate passenger demand.

The current downturn is likely to lead to the replacement of many older passenger airplanes. This accelerated replacement cycle will position airlines for the future by improving the efficiency and sustainability of today’s fleet.

Medium Term: Aviation Has Proven Resilient

While aviation has seen periodic demand shocks since the beginning of the Jet Age, our industry has recovered from these downturns every time. We currently believe it will likely take about three years for air travel to return to 2019 levels, and it will be a few years beyond that for the industry to return to long-term growth trends. Aviation remains an integral part of transportation systems around the world. The maturation of many emerging market economies will further increase consumer spending’s share of economic activity, bolstering demand for air travel. In addition, coming out of every crisis, the industry has innovated by improving service and value for the traveling public.


Medium-term Outlook Chart

Long Term: Emphasis on Fleet Versatility

The current market disruption will shape airline fleet strategies long into the future as airlines make decisions to renew their fleets and resume growth. Airlines will focus on building versatile fleets that provide future network flexibility, maximizing capability while minimizing risk, and improving efficiency and sustainability.

For a detailed look at the numbers, how the forecast varies by region and insight into freighter markets — a bright spot this year for widebody airplanes — please explore the interactive forecast below.

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  • 20-year forecast for passenger and freighter airplane deliveries, fleet growth, traffic demand, airplane and services market value
  • Interactive visuals showing how regions’ fleets and passenger traffic will grow by airplane segment and traffic flow
  • Comparison by region, including commentary and metrics