ByJohn S. McClenahen Even as it battles with Chicago-based Boeing Co. for commercial aircraft leadership, Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS is predicting that more than 17,300 new passenger airplanes and freight aircraft, with a value of $1.9 trillion, will be required between 2004 and 2023. Airbus is expected to deliver 315 to 320 passenger aircraft this year; Boeing, 285. Some 16,600 new passenger aircraft of more than 100 seats will be needed during the next two decades, creating an average delivery demand of 830 passenger aircraft per year, says Airbus. Driving demand will be a three-fold increase in the number of passengers and the need to replace 9,200 less fuel-efficient airplanes. Air freight, expected to grow even faster than passenger traffic, will create demand for more than 700 new freighters and 2,400 converted freighters, according to Airbus' calculations. The three busiest areas of the world in 2023, as measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), will be Europe, with 32% of total traffic, Asia and the Pacific (31%) and North America (26%), forecasts Airbus.