Changes in the freighter aircraft market

  • David Harris
  • May 28, 2010
  • 1

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.


Click here to get more information or to purchase the full ACMG Freighter Forecast. The report provides detailed assessment of the production and conversion prospects for 19 aircraft types that will form the backbone of the global freighter fleet over the next twenty years.

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One thought on “Changes in the freighter aircraft market

  1. Juan Rodriguez Anza raises some very interesting points. Combination carriers have over the years adopted various cargo strategies, many of which include freighters. US carriers have not been big users of freighters in recent years, and Northwest was the last of the legacy carrier group to abandon freighter operations. As such, I don’t think the Delta decision to end freighter operations is that important in the global context. However, the recent actions by AF-KLM and JAL (which is ending all freighter operations later this year) are of more concern. As you know, major combination carriers in Europe, and even more so in Asia, have been extensive users of freighters. It is too soon to tell whether the actions by AF-KLM and JAL signal the beginning of a trend away from freighters among combination carriers, or whether these are isolated incidents in response to the terrible market for air freight that contributed to financial losses for these two carriers in 2009. Over the years we have found an increasing number of freighter operators, and in general we believe that trend will continue going forward. In any given year there will be some carriers leaving the freighter market, while others join the freighter operator group for the first time.

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