Boeing on Tuesday downgraded its forecast for global air cargo growth by nearly 12 percent, a reaction to the slowing international economy and a possible result of shippers’ shift to cheaper transport.
The largest freighter manufacturer said it expects air cargo traffic to grow 5.2 percent annually, a decrease from the 5.9 percent expansion Boeing predicted two years ago. Although fuel costs are expected to remain volatile, Boeing doesn’t expect prices to be “significantly higher” than current costs.
“Current industry uncertainty has brought a disparity of viewpoint concerning the future of the air cargo business, but economic activity — particularly world gross domestic product and industrial production — remains the key driver of the air cargo market,” said Tom Crabtree, regional director, business development and strategic integration. “Over the long term, indicators such as GDP growth at 3.2 percent and the need for greater operational efficiency will prevail in the marketplace.”
Boeing forecast the global freighter fleet will expand 84 percent from 1,738 to 3,198 freighters by 2013. The Chicago-based company expects its large freighters, such as the 747 and 777, will account for about 36 percent of the fleet within 20 years, a five percentage point increase from current levels. The new freighter demand will be fueled by 935 new aircraft, valued at $250 billion, and the conversion of 1,820 passenger aircraft to freighters.
Domestic Chinese and intra-Asia markets will lead global growth, with an expansion of 8 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.
“Latin America markets with North America and with Europe will grow at approximately the world average growth rate, as will Middle East markets with Europe,” according to the Boeing forecast. “The more mature North America and Europe markets reflect slower and thus lower-than-average traffic growth rates.”