Traffic growth in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will generate demand for more than 1,200 new aircraft over the next two decades, more than doubling the size of the region’s fleet by 2037, according to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, unveiled at the Wings of Future conference in Moscow Nov. 20.

The region’s total passenger fleet is expected to almost double from 857 aircraft today to more than 1,700 by 2037. Of the 1,221 expected new aircraft, 365 will be replacing older aircraft and 856 will be new additions. 492 of the aircraft currently operating in the region are expected to remain in service through 2037.

Segmented by size, Airbus expects demand for 998 smaller, single-aisle passenger aircraft in the region over the next two decades. For the medium segment, represented by smaller widebodies and longer-range single-aisle aircraft, the Toulouse-based manufacturer forecasts demand for 140 new aircraft; in the large segment, which includes most A350s, 39 aircraft; and in the extra-large segment, which includes the A350-1000 and the A380, 44 aircraft.

Airbus predicts the region’s airlines will continue renewing their fleets through the introduction of newer, fuel-efficient models, while slowly phasing out previous generation aircraft. Doubling the regional fleet size will mean adding 23,000 new pilots and 27,960 technical specialists over the next two decades.

Passenger traffic in the region will expand at an average annual rate of 4.1%, mainly driven by growth in Russia, which is expected to more than double in terms of annual RPKs by 2037. The region’s greatest annual pace of traffic growth is predicted to occur on international routes to Latin America (5.9%), followed by Asia Pacific (5.4%), the Middle East (5.1%) and North America (4.5%).

Tourism is expected to become an increasingly important driver of growth in the CIS, where governments in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Armenia have made large investments in promoting inbound-tourism in recent years. Demand will also be boosted by migration streams, particularly within the region itself, as many Russians born in the former Soviet Union travel to visit friends and relatives in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and elsewhere.

Ben Goldstein,