Boeing projects air cargo operators will need more than 2,600 freighters over the next two decades to satisfy demand driven by increasing global freight traffic, according to the company’s new World Air Cargo Forecast, released Tuesday at the International Air Cargo Association's Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition in Toronto. Over that period, Boeing expects freight traffic to double, resulting in a need for 980 new medium and large freighters and 1,670 converted freighters to replace older airplanes and expand the world’s fleet by more than 70 percent.
“The air cargo market continues to be a major element of commercial aviation’s growth story," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes managing director of market analysis and sales support Darren Hulst. “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 Boeing projects will increase 20 percent annually to nearly $5 trillion in 2021. Boeing’s forecast indicates that demand for regional express services in fast-developing economies will boost the standard-body share of the freighter fleet from 37 percent today to 39 percent. As a result, some 1,170 standard body and 500 medium widebody passenger airplanes will undergo conversion into freighters over the next two decades, according to Boeing. Meanwhile, it added, dedicated freighters—mainly large widebodies—will continue to account for more than 50 percent of the world’s air cargo demand.
Boeing has sold 80 production and 48 converted freighters since January of last year.