Boeing expects the global air cargo traffic to increase more than twofold by 2041, while the world’s air cargo fleet will grow by more than 60 percent, according to the company’s newly released 2022 World Air Cargo Forecast.
According to the U.S. manufacturer, the increase in cargo flights will be largely driven by the growing e-commerce industry, with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for nearly 40% of all cargo deliveries over the next 20 years.
Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, which caused a lull in demand for passenger flights, the air cargo sector has seen a successful few years, with increasing revenues and growing freighter fleets. Global revenue in the air cargo industry has grown by 70 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, and there are about 300 more cargo freighters in operation today compared to 2019.
“The revenue generated by air cargo remains a huge bright spot for commercial aviation and a testament to the value of air cargo around the world, and really a testament to the reliability and speed of air cargo as a function of trade, of moving goods and keeping supply chains moving,” Darren Hulst, Boeing’s v-p of commercial marketing, told reporters during a November 8 news conference about the report.
“During the pandemic and throughout the past decade, I think air cargo has demonstrated its versatility, whether it's being able to transport temperature-controlled and highly sensitive goods like pharmaceuticals, like vaccines…or whether it's just-in-time parts and high-value parts of the global supply chain,” Hulst added. “You've seen how that’s really been put together or completed by air cargo and how that value of speed and reliability has been a hallmark of air cargo over the last few years.”
The 2022 World Air Cargo Forecast projects that the world will need nearly 2,800 additional freighters by 2041 to keep up with the growing demand for air cargo transportation. According to Boeing’s forecast, those additional freighters will consist of about 940 brand-new aircraft and nearly 1,900 converted passenger airliners. The new deliveries of wide-body aircraft will be split between large airplanes like the 777 freighter and medium-sized airplanes such as the 767, Hulst explained, whereas the new standard-body freighters will need to be converted.
To keep up with the growing demand for air cargo services, operators will need to switch to using more fuel-efficient and sustainable aircraft, Hulst said. “Over half of the fleet is at least 20 years old, and so while there's a significant amount of 777 and 747-8 freighters in the large freighter market that are new and efficient and capable, there is a tremendous amount—almost 400 or over 350 aircraft—that do need replacement.”
On November 8, Emirates announced it is increasing its cargo fleet with an order for five Boeing 777 Freighters valued at more than $1.7 billion at list prices. The aircraft will be operated by the Dubai-based carrier's Emirates SkyCargo division, which already has 11 of the type.