At a meeting in Hong Kong, Airbus provided more detail about its predictions for the future of air cargo with the release of its Cargo Global Market Forecast 2013-2032 (GMF). Cargo Facts attended the Hong Kong event, and we will provide our own thoughts, and the thoughts of some of the people we spoke to, later this week, but first, here’s what Airbus had to say:
In the GMF, Airbus predicts that the world’s fleet of freighter aircraft will grow to 2,905 units in 2032, up from a base year total of 1,645 units. According to Airbus, additions to the freighter fleet over the next twenty years will consist of 871 new production freighters (all widebody types) plus conversion of 1,859 used passenger aircraft (both widebody and narrowbody) to freighter configuration.
Regarding freighter requirements going forward, Airbus said that the “large size fits all” air cargo model “no longer works.” Rather it predicts the greatest demand will be for mid-size freighters, which it defines as aircraft with capacity from 30-to-80 tonnes. Production A330-200Fs and converted A330P-to-F units compete in this market segment, “filling a gap in the middle of the market.”
The assumptions behind the Airbus forecast:
- Over the 20-year period covered by its GMF forecast, Airbus says it expects air freight demand to grow at an average rate of 4.8% per year.
- The company bases the air freight growth prediction on its belief that both world trade and global GDP will roughly double over the twenty-year period.
- Airbus believes that a disproportionate share of the growth in demand for air freight will come from emerging markets, saying that the Asia-Pacific share of global FTKs will increase to 41% in 2032 (up from 36%), with 12% of the Asia-Pacific total coming from rapid expansion of the China domestic market, especially the express component.
- By 2032, Airbus predicts that the GDP of the Asia-Pacific region will be the same size as the GDP of the EU and North America combined.
- Finally, addressing the threat to freighters from belly capacity, Airbus says: “Future deliveries of widebody aircraft will not dramatically impact the split between belly and main deck cargo (split roughly 50:50 today for international traffic).”