Boeing has forecast a doubling of global air freight traffic over the next 20 years, and projects that operators will need 2,650 additional freighters over the period.
The airframer’s World Air Cargo Forecast said increased demand will mean 980 new medium and large freighters, and 1,670 converted passenger planes will be needed to replace older aircraft and grow the global fleet.
“The air cargo market continues to be a major element of commercial aviation's growth story,” Boeing Commercial’s MD of Market Analysis & Sales Support Darren Hulst said. “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.”
Growth drivers include the global rise of ecommerce, and the growing express market in China. Ecommerce is forecast to increase by 20 percent annually, reaching almost USD$5 trillion in 2021, Boeing's analysis shows.
To meet the growth in demand Boeing forecasts the expansion of the world freighter fleet by more than 70 percent to 3,260 aircraft, with new freighter deliveries worth USD$280 billion.
Passenger planes will also be converted to freighters, with 1,170 standard-body and 500 medium wide-body aircraft converted over the next 20 years.
Boeing released the forecast at The International Air Cargo Association's Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition in Toronto.