Executive Briefings

As Many as 3,000 Air Freighters Expected to Be Needed Over Next 20 Years

Even in the worst-case scenario, there will be a rising demand for freighter aircraft over the next 20 years, according to the most recent forecast by Seattle's Air Cargo Management Group (ACMG).

Speaking at yesterday’s ACMG Workshop session during the Bob Dahl, ACMG managing director, speaking at the recent Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium in Miami, discussed the group’s annual 20-Year Freighter Forecast and predicted that roughly 2,000 to 3,000 freighter aircraft will be needed between now and 2033. The estimate was based on the expected global freight-tonne kilometer (FTK) growth rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent over the 20-year period, thanks to a strengthening global economy, resulting in a rise in world trade. ACMG also assumed an industry-wide 1 percent annual productivity gain through increased freighter size, load factor and utilization would reduce the growth rate. Dahl told the packed workshop audience that, following a 10-year decline in freighters during a period of consolidation in the express business, weak international air cargo demand and a “churning of the fleet,” resulting in the retirement of several aging aircraft models (DC-8s, DC-9s, DC-10s, 707s, 727-100s, 747-Classics and A300B4s), freighter demand will rebound to an average of 4 percent annual growth through 2033. Assuming a high-end FTK growth rate of 5 percent, ACMG predicts that the industry’s current fleet of 1,558 freighters will double in size over the next 20 years to reach 3,370 total units.

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Speaking at yesterday’s ACMG Workshop session during the Bob Dahl, ACMG managing director, speaking at the recent Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium in Miami, discussed the group’s annual 20-Year Freighter Forecast and predicted that roughly 2,000 to 3,000 freighter aircraft will be needed between now and 2033. The estimate was based on the expected global freight-tonne kilometer (FTK) growth rate of between 3 percent and 5 percent over the 20-year period, thanks to a strengthening global economy, resulting in a rise in world trade. ACMG also assumed an industry-wide 1 percent annual productivity gain through increased freighter size, load factor and utilization would reduce the growth rate. Dahl told the packed workshop audience that, following a 10-year decline in freighters during a period of consolidation in the express business, weak international air cargo demand and a “churning of the fleet,” resulting in the retirement of several aging aircraft models (DC-8s, DC-9s, DC-10s, 707s, 727-100s, 747-Classics and A300B4s), freighter demand will rebound to an average of 4 percent annual growth through 2033. Assuming a high-end FTK growth rate of 5 percent, ACMG predicts that the industry’s current fleet of 1,558 freighters will double in size over the next 20 years to reach 3,370 total units.

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