Airbus forecast on Monday that some 870 new freighters will join the world's air cargo fleets over the next 20 years, a more optimistic outlook for aircraft production than rival manufacturer Boeing gave in November.
The European plane-maker's more upbeat projection came even though Airbus matched Boeing's forecast for global air cargo demand, predicting the business will grow at an average annual pace of 5.9 percent through 2029.
Airbus said the world freighter fleet will more than double in that time, growing from 1,550 freighters in 2009 to 3,350 in 20 years. Most of the additions will come from converted passenger aircraft, Airbus said.
Boeing's cargo forecast issued earlier this fall wasn't as optimistic about freighter demand, predicting the overall all-cargo fleet will expand only about 70 percent over the next 20 years, with 734 of the aircraft coming as new freighters.
Airbus expects passenger traffic to expand 153 percent over the 20-year forecast period, with demand from emerging markets leading the growth.