China will make up approximately 19 per cent of the world’s demand for new aircraft over the next two decades with the country’s aviation sector projected to require approximately 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft, a recent study from Airbus shows.

According to the European manufacturer’s 2018-2037 Global Market Forecast, the vast majority of these will be in the Small segment, encompassing single-aisle aircraft capable of operating on domestic and regional routes. Of the 7,400 new aircraft, some 6,180 are expected to be in this category.

This figure stands in stark contrast to the Large segment where only 240 aircraft are projected to be needed by China’s aviation industry over the next two decades, and the Extra-Large category where just 130 new are anticipated to be required. Airbus’s A350-900 occupies the Large segment, whilst its A380 superjumbo as well as its new, longer A350-1000 make up the Extra-Large grouping.

The findings showcase the strong focus China’s aviation sector is likely to have on short-haul flights as opposed to longer international routes.

This comes in spite of the recent push by numerous Chinese carriers over the past few years to rapidly expand their long-haul international offerings. Over the past 12 months, for example, eight new routes between cities in China and London alone have launched or been announced.

China’s domestic traffic has grown fourfold over the past 10 years with double-digit growth, and is expected to become the world’s largest traffic flow in the next decade, tripling from its current level today, the survey suggests. International traffic between China and the rest of the world, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

Speaking about the findings, Airbus’s chief commercial officer, Christian Scherer, estimated that the country would become the “world’s number one aviation market in the very near future”.

International traffic is expected to grow significantly as well, however, with traffic flow between China and the US, Europe and other destinations across Asia-Pacific expected to be the fastest growing.

China is home to close to 50 different carriers. Business Traveller previously took an in-depth look at the country’s aviation sector in our feature, “Chinese aviation: Ascent of the dragon”.

Chinese aviation: Ascent of the dragon