As evidence of the recovery in air freight demand becomes widespread, attention is shifting from survival to the future market for freighter aircraft. The just-released fifth edition of Air Cargo Management Group’s 20-Year Freighter Aircraft Forcast sheds light on where that market is headed.
ACMG (Cargo Facts’ parent company) points out that the number of freighters in the global fleet declined about 13% over the past two years due to the impact of the global downturn, with 1,560 freighters of all sizes in service at the end of 2009 compared to 1,800 in 2006/07. Nevertheless, ACMG predicts the freighter fleet will grow significantly going forward. As shown in the charts below, the freighter fleet is predicted to grow to 3,881 units in 2029 if growth in underlying demand for air freight services comes in at 6% per year, a level close to the long-term historic average. Under this high-growth scenario there will be demand for nearly 3,400 freighters (conversions and new production units) to meet growth and replacement needs. Even under a much more conservative low-growth scenario (3% per year), the fleet will grow to 2,535 units and there will be a need for nearly 2,300 freighters for growth and replacement.