Boeing has predicted a 5.2 per cent annual growth rate for air cargo services over the next two decades despite near-term market weakness.
Growth will be driven by increased global commerce as countries continue to liberalise their trade policies, while air cargo costs will drop thanks to more efficient aircraft and improved infrastructure, Boeing said.
“Current industry uncertainty has brought a disparity of viewpoint concerning the future of the air cargo business, but economic activity – particularly world gross domestic product and industrial production – remains the key driver of the air cargo market,” said Tom Crabtree, regional director, Business Development & Strategic Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Over the long term, indicators such as GDP growth at 3.2 per cent and the need for greater operational efficiency will prevail in the marketplace.”
The air cargo industry has been mired in a slump since the Global Financial Crisis, with traffic declining last year and so far this year.
But Boeing predicts a turnaround will see the global air cargo fleet grow from 1,738 to 3,198 aircraft by 2031. Widebody freighters will account for 36 per cent of that fleet – up from 31 per cent – while passenger-to-freighter conversions will account for two-thirds of new cargo aircraft, Boeing said.