Boeing projects air cargo operators will need more than 2,600 freighters during the next two decades to keep up with increasing global freight traffic, which is expected to double with 4.2% growth annually.
The 980 new medium and large freighters and 1,670 converted freighters will go toward replacing older airplanes and growing the global fleet to meet demand, according to the new World Air Cargo Forecast, released by Boeing at The International Air Cargo Association's Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition.
"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% annually to nearly $5 trillion in 2021 according to Boeing's analysis.
To meet growing market needs, Boeing also forecasts:
• The world freighter fleet will expand by more than 70%, from the current total of 1,870 to 3,260 airplanes.
• Boeing projects new production freighter deliveries valued at $280 billion.
• Demand for regional express services in fast-developing economies will boost the standard-body share of the freighter fleet from 37% today to 39%.
• 1,170 standard body and 500 medium wide-body passenger airplanes will be converted into freighters over the next two decades.
• Dedicated freighters, which provide unique capability that passenger belly-cargo cannot match, will continue to carry more than 50% of the world's air cargo demand. The majority will be in the large widebody freighter category, such as the 747-8 Freighter and 777 Freighters.
"With 90% share of the freighter market, Boeing is well positioned to capture this growth," said Hulst. "We have invested in our freighter family to help express cargo and general freight operators carry out their missions around the world.”
Boeing offers a family of freighters with a combination of payload, range, and fuel efficiency, including the 777 Freighter and 737-800BCF program.
Since January 2017, Boeing has sold 128 freighters, including 80 production and 48 converted freighters.
Boeing has published the biennial World Air Cargo Forecast for the past three decades. The 2018 World Air Cargo Forecast is available for download.