Air cargo growth to expand.
Global air cargo growth will expand at a 5.8 per cent annual rate over the next two decades, with air freight traffic tripling through 2027, according to Boeing's World Air Cargo Forecast 2008/2009.
Boeing released the biennial forecast, which is widely cited by airlines and industry groups, at the International Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition 2008 in Kuala Lumpur. Air cargo traffic will grow over the long term despite current near-term market weakness and worldwide economic uncertainty, the company said. The industry has shown strong recoveries from previous economic downturns such as the Asian economic crisis, the 9/11 attacks and the Sars outbreak. "Our research tells us that long-term economic growth, freighter fleet renewal and moderating jet fuel prices will stimulate air cargo traffic growth," said Randy Tinseth, vice president, marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Tinseth pointed out that these positive prospects would prevail despite the industry's concerns about current economic challenges. "World GDP is projected to average just higher than 3 per cent during the next 20 years. Asian production fundamentals - including abundant raw materials and low-cost labour - remain solid, and China will remain a source of strong economic growth with substantial industrialisation and related investment." According to the Boeing report, cargo tends to be at the forefront of increased liberalisation of air services, which is a driver of economic growth. Asian air cargo market growth will continue to lead all global traffic routes. Domestic Chinese and intra-Asian markets will grow 9.9 per cent and 8.1 per cent per year, respectively. Asia-related markets will experience growth in excess of the global average. "We have seen market contraction during the middle of this year for the first time since late 2003; however, history tells us that the air cargo market returns robustly when the economy strengthens," said Jim Edgar, regional director, marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and a contributor to the forecast. "Air cargo remains crucial to globalisation," Edgar added. Boeing predicts the world freighter fleet will increase to 3,890 airplanes from 1,950 during the 20-year period. Large freighters such as the Boeing 747 and 777 ultimately will represent 35 per cent of the fleet, compared to 26 per cent today, while providing 74 per cent of total capacity. This segment will require 640 new factory-built airplanes. More than 75 per cent of the 3,360 freighters joining the fleet - 2,500 airplanes - will come from passenger-to-freighter modifications, while 860 will be new-production freighters.
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