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The global commercial aircraft cabin interiors market

Commercial aircraft cabin interior markets have begun to grow again, following the economic crisis which had forced airlines to postpone retrofit programmes and new aircraft deliveries while restructuring their operating fleets. The first delivery of B787s has had a positive influence on the cabin interior market by opening a new demand channel; the same growth effect will come with new aircraft programmes, especially the Airbus A350 and A320 Neo and the Chinese C919. Retrofit markets are also booming, fuelled by significant numbers of aircraft returning to operations after inactivity during the crisis period. A large number of retrofit programmes which were postponed for financial reasons are now going to be realised.

Rising fuel prices have created demand for lightweight materials and more energy-efficient lighting systems. In the European market the effect is going to be even stronger because of airlines’ incorporation into the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (beginning 1 January 2012), which will entail new financial obligations for airlines. Additional costs incurred will depend on the quantity of CO2 emissions, so European airlines are expected to increase number of retrofit programmes and fleet exchange programmes in order to decrease fleet fuel consumption. This will result in increased demand for new cabin interiors made from advanced, lightweight materials, which will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission per passenger kilometer ratios.

These positive factors entail a considerable rise in aircraft cabin interior spending. Nevertheless, some factors which are expected to drive the cabin interior market in the near future, such as fuel prices and environmental taxes, may become restraints in the future. Some airlines have announced likely capacity cuts when fuel prices and new aviation taxes exceed the level, which is allowing them to maintain profitability; this fuels uncertainty among industry stakeholders and slows increases in production capability. The market also has to cope with high certification requirements, which are making new product development processes long and expensive.

However, Frost & Sullivan anticipates that the drivers will outpace the restraints in the short term and that new, reduced fuel consumption engines will help to mitigate the potential future restraints of fuel prices and aviation taxes in the long term. The result will be major positive growth rates in all cabin interior segments.

Market forecast

The commercial aircraft cabin interior market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 8.7%, with most of the revenue opportunities occurring after 2016, when new aircraft programmes will be introduced and the B787 and A350 will reach their full production levels. The retrofit market will be fuelled by a significant number of retrofit programmes, especially in Western Europe and North America.

Main cabin: Need for light and strong composite materials
The main cabin segment is facing growing demand for new materials which both reduce aircraft weight and allow the passenger more personal and luggage space. Larger overhead bins, sidewall panels which give the impression of more cabin space, non-electrical floor lighting, and lighter carpets and floor panels are becoming standard in cabin interiors.

Galleys: Growing low-cost carriers a potential risk 

Many different aircraft operators with diverse needs are a big challenge for this sector. While low-cost carriers are reducing galley equipment to the minimum necessary, airlines that want to reach clients with extraordinary service offerings are looking for new galley solutions which allow them to offer passengers fresh meals prepared on board. Nevertheless, all of them want galley equipment to be as light as possible and to consume minimal space and energy.

The global economic situation will have significant influence on this segment and on the popularity of airlines’ business models; the growing number of low-cost fleets may restrain demand for galleys. Airbus predicts that within the next 10 years the market share of low-cost carriers in global short-haul traffic will increase from 23% to 29%. In addition, in its Global Market Forecast for 2011-2030, Airbus predicted that within 20 years, low-cost carriers’ market share of intra-Western European and domestic Southeast Asian short-haul traffic could increase to up to 60%.

Lavatories: Standard sizes with customised interiors 

Competition in the cabin lavatory segment is increasing, with a greater numbers of interior producers extending their offerings and manufacturing lavatories. While standardisation of size is required by primes to simplify their production processes, airlines are demanding the ability to customise lavatory interiors –including colours and materials, illumination, dispensers, mirrors, showers, and equipment to make the lavatory handicapped-accessible. Non-contact interiors, with photocell-activated taps or self-cleaning toilets are to increase in prevalence, according to the need to increase passenger comfort through improvements in hygiene. In new generations of aircraft the passenger-to-lavatory ratio is decreasing, from an average of approximately 60 to a present average of 50.

Lighting: LED technology driving lighting opportunities

LED technology is changing aircraft interiors by providing lighting with low operating and maintenance costs, which compensate for its high installation cost. LED lights are strongly driving the retrofit market and slowly coming to the line-fit market, with new aircraft like the B787 being fully LED-lit. The revenue potential of LED retrofitting will decrease over time, due to the long lifecycle of LED lights.

Seating: Three sub-segments with different requirements 

The three types of aircraft passenger seats have been developed to suit different requirements, but all are required by primary aircraft operators to be as light and space-efficient as possible without reducing passenger comfort. In first-class and business-class seats, the trend is to give the passenger as much comfort as possible by offering (for example) flat beds, working spaces, special reading lights, and high-quality inflight entertainment. For economy-class seats, airlines are mostly going for weight decreases and space savings, especially in the case of seats projected for short-haul operations. These measures include lightweight covers and smaller and slimmer headrests and tables, with the aim of increasing the number of economy seats on board and decreasing the fuel consumption per passenger. Growing fuel costs and new environmental taxes are strongly driving the seating sector and fuelling a number of big retrofit programmes, such as the Lufthansa seats exchange programme.

Regional opportunities 

Demand for aircraft cabin interiors is going to rise in all global regions. Nevertheless, some present more growth potential than others. The markets of Western Europe and North America are slowly losing their positions as the most important cabin interior markets. The Middle Eastern, Chinese and Indian markets will together comprise 27.3% of global demand for cabin interiors in 2020.

China is seen as one of the greatest potential single markets. Lower than expected traffic growth in 2011 is leading aircraft operators to think about increasing their fleet of slightly smaller aircraft, such as opting for B737s instead of B787s. In addition, it is expected that the number of aircraft equipped to low-cost carrier standards will grow. Low-cost carriers are expected to have significant influence on cabin interior market values, not just in China, but also in the Asia-Pacific region.

Competitive overview 

Zodiac Group, B/E Aerospace, and Diehl Group are increasing their leadership positions through mergers and acquisitions. The growing demand in India, China, and the Middle East presents huge challenges for market leaders based in Europe and North America. The location of demand centres is shifting, not just because of growing needs of aircraft operators in China, India and the Middle East, but also because of the new Chinese C919 programme. Frost & Sullivan expects new competitors from Asia to enter the market; these newcomers may have significant influence on the market structure in the long term.

Post-crisis growth is already evident in the commercial aircraft cabin interiors market. However, predictions of a new global economic crisis bring with them significant uncertainty, which has made market participants careful in their investment decisions. The effects of this wait-and-see strategy are already visible, especially in the galley and seating segments, where waiting times for new equipment are increasing. High levels of safety standards and certification costs are also restraining the pace of technological change.

Conversely, the market is being driven by a fast-growing number of new aircraft orders, already at previously unseen levels. Rising fuel prices combined with new environmental taxes are creating demand in the retrofit market, especially in the seating segment. New aircraft programmes bring new opportunities for manufacturers to increase their market share and present new technologies. However, the level of competition is expected to increase, with Airbus and Boeing currently planning to decrease their number of cabin interior suppliers. Frost & Sullivan expects growing demand for cabin interiors, especially in Asia and the Middle East, and further market consolidation as the biggest players increase their M&A activity.


16 November 2012


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