Asia to drive air cargo growth, Boeing predicts

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Annual growth is expected to average 4.2 per cent and anything linked to Asia will be stronger, Boeing predicts in its World Air Cargo Forecast.

Speaking at the Air Cargo Americas conference on 1 November, Boeing Commercial Airplanes regional director for cargo market analysis, Gregg Gildemann explained to delegates that revenue tonne kilometres will grow at 4.2 per cent up to 2036, and the Asia – North America trade lane will be higher at 4.6 per cent.

Boeing is also predicting that 920 new production freighters and 1,560 converted units will also be needed in that period.

Gildemann says: “World GDP from 2016-36 will grow at 2.8 per cent, and Asia will exceed that at 3.9%.”

E-commerce will be of increasing important to the air cargo industry, with China expected to be a booming market.

He says: “People want goods and want them fast, speed is so important, we are predicting 15 per cent growth per year through to 2019.”

“Chinese online retail sales are booming, China e-commerce back in 2010 was half of the USA, it had surpassed the US in 2013 and will probably be triple the USA by 2020.”

Gildemann says freighters will continue to be very important in years to come, and large freighters account for 60 per cent of available tonne kilometres.

He says: “They are critical in terms of what they carry and what they contribute to the world economy. Boeing has a vested interest in freighter market as we have 90 per cent of the market. It is an area we really excelled in and hope to continue in the future.”

Gildemann says freighters will continue to carry considerable quantities of air cargo in the future despite increasing numbers of cargo friendly passenger aircraft.

He explains: “Despite a big increase of 777-300ERs in the market, which is an incredible plane with cargo capability, dedicated freighters are still critical in what they do and where they go and the type of customers serve. 80 per cent Asia-Europe traffic is transported by freighters, 75 per cent between Asia and North America and 40 per cent on transatlantic routes.”

Gildemann also gave Boeing’s views on how air cargo had performed so far this year, that growth had picked up at the end of the second quarter of 2016 and had remained very strong ever since.

He says: “What we have seen thus far is 10.4% year-to-date, which is very impressive and surprising. We were optimistic but the magnitude of the growth has caught people by surprise.

This has been followed up by September growing 10 per cent year-on-year and growth is not falling off but Gildemann warns 2017/8 will be difficult due to the strong year in 2017, so Boeing is not expecting double digit increases in 2018.