European aircraft manufacturer Airbus sees the Middle East playing a central role in the growth of the global aviation market.

“In the next 20 years, the Middle East will have four of the top 20 fastest growing traffic flows in the world,” says Chris Emerson, senior vice-president, future programmes and market strategy at Airbus during a presentation of the airline’s latest innovations in flight technology in Dubai on 4 November.

The fast growing traffic flows will cover traffic from the Middle East travelling to South America, South Africa, Canada and the US. The routes are set to grow at between seven and 11 per cent annually between 2011 and 2031, according to Airbus predictions.

Demand for new and larger aircraft is also set to increase in coming years. Demand from Middle East carriers such as Dubai-based Emirates or Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, will account for almost 10 per cent of the predicted global deliveries of new passenger aircraft over the next 20 years, Airbus forecasts.

According to Airbus’ global market forecast 2012, a total of 27,350 passenger aircraft will be ordered globally over the next 20 years. A total 28,200 freight and passenger aircraft will be delivered in the next two decades and the global aviation market will be valued at $4 trillion.

Of this, 1,960 aircraft will be ordered by Middle East airlines, with 792 single-aisle aircraft predicted to be delivered, along with 826 twin-aisle aircraft and 345 very large aircraft. The total market value of the Middle East aircraft business will be $408bn.

At the end of October, Etihad Airways signed another order with Airbus for two A330-200 passenger aircraft. These aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines. 

From 2011 to 2021, global annual air traffic will grow by 5.1 per cent, while in the following decade, traffic will grow by 4.4 per cent, according to Airbus forecasts.

The greatest growth in passenger traffic will be seen in the emerging markets.