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Cargo

Freighter fantastic

Boeing’s latest forecast on the global air cargo industry has shone a light on the vital role that freighters will play in the wider context of trade and transportation of goods.
 
Boeing’s latest forecast on the global air cargo industry has shone a light on the vital role that freighters will play in the wider context of trade and transportation of goods.  
 
The report reminds that air cargo represents less than 1% of global trade by tonnage, yet air cargo transports more than $6 trillion worth of goods every year, representing more than 35% of global trade by value.
 
Such a large disparity between tonnage and value reflects air cargo’s unique position in transporting goods that often require a high level of speed, reliability and security. Among those traded goods, computing equipment, machinery, and electrical equipment account for the highest share of airborne trade tonnage versus containership tonnage.
 
While passenger belly capacity is increasing, freighters maintain a market share advantage for several reasons, which include providing highly controlled transport, direct routing, reliability, and unique capacity considerations (volume, weight, hazardous materials, and dimensions). These factors make freighter operations essential and are driving the forecast for freighters to continue carrying more than half of the world’s air cargo in the next 20 years.
 
Express carriers continue to operate substantial freighter fleets, flying more than half of the widebody freighters, and generating 43% of air cargo industry revenues in 2017. Because of a unique business model that is tailored to the needs of their customers by using unique schedules, specialised aircraft, and a door-to-door transportation network, carriers that only operate lower hold cannot offer the same level of service.
 
Low cost carriers (LCCs) have increased their share of air cargo traffic, particularly in Southeast Asia. Also, in India, LCC SpiceJet recently inaugurated 737 freighters in their fleet, which is an interesting development. However, as the Boeing report says, even with fast growth in passenger markets and the recent surge in low cost long haul development, LCCs are still estimated to carry less than 2% of air cargo traffic.

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