World commercial aircraft fleet slated to grow 28% by 2034

Lines of jet aircraft parked on the tarmac. Air travel and air traffic.
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Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

According to a recent report from consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the commercial aircraft fleet is expected to grow 28% over the next decade.  This represents increase from 28,400 aircraft to 36,400 by 2034.

The 24th edition of the Global Fleet and MRO Market Forecast 2024-2034 provides these projections.

Industry Overview

Anthony DiNota, Vice President of Oliver Wyman’s CAVOK, stated that the industry is on a growth trajectory after recovering from COVID-19.

However, the pandemic has had lasting effects, with six years of growth wiped out, resulting in the fleet reaching 39,000 aircraft by 2036 instead of 2030.

The maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sector is expected to grow almost 3% in 2024, reaching $104 billion, and an average of 1.8% annually through 2034. Here are some key findings from the forecast:

Fleet Growth Rates

Although the industry has reached its pre-COVID peak, the commercial aircraft growth will be slower moving forward. The fleet will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.5%, down from the 2.9% projected in last year’s forecast.

Narrowbody aircraft are expected to rise from 61% to 63% of the fleet between 2024 and 2034 due to the resurgence of domestic air travel worldwide, which is expected to surpass the pre-COVID peak.

A Boeing 737 approaches to land.
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Growth of the Indian Sector

For the first time, India will surpass China as the industry’s growth leader, with a nearly 13% expansion in the first five years of the forecast period and almost 10% over the entire decade. The Indian fleet, currently at 600 planes, is expected to be 2.5 times larger by 2034.

MRO & Aviation Aftermarket

The aviation aftermarket, known as MRO, is projected to expand to $124 billion by 2034. A range of next-generation engines has entered the market in the past year, all of which have had operational issues.

For this reason, engine MRO for commercial aircraft is expected to grow more quickly than other aftermarket segments, at a compound annual growth rate of 2.3%.

Close-up of aircraft wing and engines in hangar.
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Pilot Shortages

The pilot shortage is easing as salaries for all pilots rise and more candidates seek their airline transport pilot certification.

The gap between supply and demand will peak in North America in 2026 at 24,000. The shortage will continue to affect airlines over the next decade. In particular, this will impact regional airlines and ultra low-cost carriers in the United States.

Climate Change & Sustainability

There is still uncertainty about how climate change will impact the industry’s growth. Some EU countries have taken the step of removing some short-haul flights.

In the EU, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandates will be implemented in 2025. These mandates will require 2% of all fuel at European airports to be SAF.

Aviation maintenance technician loads sustainable aviation fuel into the 2021 Boeing ecoDemonstrator. (Boeing photo)

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) holds promise, offering a 50% to 80% reduction in emissions compared to traditional jet fuel.

Despite its potential, widespread use faces a hurdle: current supply cannot meet the massive increase required.

While some airlines have begun incorporating SAF, production must significantly ramp up to make a real difference.

Summary

“The aviation industry is facing several challenges, including a fragile manufacturing supply chain, labor shortages, and higher capital costs,” said Brian Prentice, Partner, Oliver Wyman, and co-author of the report.

“These obstacles are further complicated by geopolitical tensions and the pressing issue of climate change. The industry must position itself for sustainable growth while addressing current challenges.”


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A new report shows the commercial aviation fleet is expected to grow 28% over the next decade, rising from today's 28,400 aircraft to 36,400 by 2034
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