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PARIS, LE BOURGET: Airbus expects air transport growth over the next 20 years will require 804 freighters as part of an industry demand for 32,600 new aircraft worth US$4.9 trillion.

The manufacturer estimates aviation contributes US$2.4 trillion annually to global GDP – a figure likely to double by 2034 as the world's population rises to 8.6 billion and the middle class percentage increases from a 2014 figure of 2.7 billion to top 4.7 billion people.

Le Bourget 2015Speaking at the opening of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget (right), Airbus COO John Leahy commented: "Asia-Pacific will lead in world traffic by 2034 and China will be the world's biggest aviation market within 10 years, and clearly Asia and emerging markets are the catalyst for strong air traffic growth."

Airbus expects the growth in long-haul traffic will be mainly between "aviation megacities" - rising from 47 hubs producing 22 percent of global GDP today, to 35 percent from 91 cities by 2034. Ten of the top 20 traffic flows are expected to be in Asia Pacific with domestic China traffic being the largest single segment.

As a result, the manufacturer expects airlines will need 9,600 widebody passenger and freighter aircraft valued at US$2.7 trillion to connect these cities over the next 20 years. Garuda International has begun this process by signing a Letter of Intent for 30 A350 aircraft to develop its medium and long haul network.

Other announcements on the first day of the Le Bourget show included a Qatar Airways order for 10 B777-8Xs and four more B777 freighters, with a list price of US$4.8 billion. "The order for four 777 freighters underpins the value that this airplane has also brought to our rapidly growing cargo operations," said CEO Akbar Al Baker. Boeing also announced EVA Airways is to buy five B777 freighters with a total book value of US$1.5 billion.

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