China will need more than 7,400 new passenger and freight aircraft over the next two decades, accounting for nearly 20% of the global demand for 37,400 new aircraft expected by 2037, according to the latest Airbus China Market Forecast.

Airbus divided the estimated 7,400 aircraft, valued at $1.06 trillion, into four groups roughly corresponding to size. For the smallest segment, where single-aisle aircraft compete, the manufacturer predicts a need for 6,180 aircraft. In the medium segment, which requires additional capacity and range flexibility, Airbus expects 870 aircraft. For the large segment, which includes the A350, 240 aircraft are anticipated. In the extra-large segment, where the A350-1000 and A380 compete, 130 aircraft will be needed.

“China is one of the most powerful growth engines of global air transport. It will become the world’s number one aviation market in the very near future,” Airbus CCO Christian Scherer said. “Airbus’ share of the China mainland in-service fleet has steadily increased and now exceeds incumbent and competing aircraft types and keeps growing thanks to our cost-effective new generation products. In parallel the total value of our industrial cooperation with Chinese aviation industry is growing to 1 billion USD by 2020.”

In China, the company expects the number of trips flown per capita will more than triple from 0.4 trips annually today to 1.4 by 2037, boosted by increasing private consumption by an expanding middle class. Private consumption, which today accounts for 37% of China’s GDP, is expected to rise to 43% over the next two decades, and the Chinese middle class is expected to nearly triple from 550 million to 1.5 billion people over the same period.

Such growth would make China the world leader in domestic and international air traffic, with passenger demand for routes connecting China expected to grow by 6.3% over the next 20 years, well above the global average. Domestic traffic in China has grown fourfold over the last 10 years alone and is projected to become the largest traffic flow in the next decade, Airbus said, while international traffic to and from China has more than doubled over the same period.

Ben Goldstein, Ben.Goldstein@aviationweek.com