Freight Boeing forecasts air cargo traffic will double in 20 years

  • Boeing

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has published details of its air cargo traffic forecast and expects major growth in the next decades.

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When you talk to people about logistics and transportation of goods in the future, many think of drones and automated parcel delivery. One aspect that is often forgotten is the further increase in freight in the aviation sector. Boeing has now calculated that air cargo operators will need more than 2,600 freighters over the next two decades to keep up with increasing global freight traffic, which is expected to double with 4.2 percent growth annually.

The air cargo market continues to be a major element of commercial aviation's growth story," said Darren Hulst, managing director of Market Analysis & Sales Support at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our new forecast indicates strong long-term air cargo trends, which coincide with the market recovery that we have seen over the last few years across Europe, North America, and Asia."

Some of the factors driving the growth in air cargo include a growing express market in China and the global rise of e-commerce, which is forecast to increase 20 percent annually to nearly $5 trillion in 2021 according to Boeing's analysis.

According to Boeing, the world’s freighter fleet will expand by more than 70 percent from the current total of 1.870 to 3.260 aircraft in the next years. The aircraft manufacturer expects that 1.170 standard body and 500 medium wide-body passenger airplanes will be converted into freighters over the next two decades. Boeing works together with partners to offer customers conversions for its single-aisle model Boeing 737. Especially older Boeing 737-800 can be converted into dedicated freighter aircraft. Boeing’s major competitor Airbus launched a similar project for its Airbus A320 Family. In the large widebody freighter category Boeing offers the Boeing 777F and the larger B747-8F. Airbus focuses on the Airbus A330 Freighter.

Boeing forecasts that dedicated freighters, which provide unique capability that passenger belly-cargo cannot match, will continue to carry more than 50 percent of the world's air cargo demand.

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