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Airbus says world freighter fleet to reach almost 3,000 in next 20 years

written by WOFA | October 14, 2013

Airbus is looking to the replacement market and regional growth centres for future freighter sales. (Rob Finlayson)
Airbus is looking to the replacement market and regional growth centres for future freighter sales. (Rob Finlayson)

According to Airbus’s new Cargo Global Market Forecast, worldwide airfreight traffic will grow by an average of 4.8 per cent annually over the next 20 years, almost doubling the required global freighter fleet to nearly 3,000 aircraft.

The forecast shows the overall worldwide air cargo demand by the year 2032 will require around 2,700 new and converted aircraft. Of these 2,700 aircraft, 870 will be factory-built freighters worth approximately US$234 billion, while around 1,860 will be converted from passenger aircraft. A further 175 in 2032 will be aircraft that are already in service as freighters today.

The forecast expects belly-freight usage in passenger aircraft will remain largely unchanged at around half of commercial air freight on international traffic.

Andreas Hermann, Airbus’s vice president, head of freighters said world trade was showing improvements.

“Diverse emerging markets will call for increased flexibility in air cargo transportation – for which mid-size freighters will be the primary means to achieve this,” he said, adding: “This is why Airbus forecasts that the core of future freighter requirements will be in the mid-size category.”

Illustrating the rise of the emerging economies as the fastest growing markets for air cargo, Asia-Pacific (including India and the PRC) currently represents 36 per cent of the world freight traffic, increasing to 42 per cent by 2032.

Today, small freighters account for about 23 per cent of the fleet and although the express freight market boom in China and India will boost the number of small freighters from 380 in 2012 to more than 600 aircraft by 2032, their overall proportion of the world fleet will nevertheless decrease slightly, to around 21 per cent, Airbus said.


Mid-size freighters represent around 45 per cent of the fleet in service and are increasingly used for regional express services and regional and long-haul general cargo operations. Their numbers are expected to boom in the coming years driven by growth in emerging markets, especially in China. The mid-size segment is expected to grow to over 1,290 units by 2032, up from 744 units at the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, large freighters represent about 32 per cent of the fleet today and are mainly used on long-haul operations between three main markets: USA, Europe and Asia. The fleet of large aircraft will reach over 1,000 aircraft by 2032, while slightly increasing its share of the world freighter fleet.


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