Aircraft manufacturer Boeing, showing strong confidence in air freight demand after the longest downturn in the industry’s history, says world air cargo traffic will return to its 2007 peak by the end of this year and resume strong expansion over the next 20 years.
Boeing said in its bi-annual World Air Cargo Forecast that it expects industry traffic to grow at a 5.9 percent average annual rate in the coming two decades, putting the business on track to triple by 2029.
The forecast is in line with Boeing’s forecasts from previous years and effectively shuts the door on a downturn that saw global air cargo traffic contract in two straight years for the first time in history. The business declined 13 percent over 2008 and 2009 from its peak in 2007, Boeing said.
"Economic activity – world gross domestic product – is the key driver of the air cargo market," said Jerry Allyne, Boeing’s vice president of strategic planning and analysis. "Following the recession and a year of recovery, world economic growth is forecast to average 3.2 percent over the next two decades."
World economic growth already is fueling strong expansion this year that will push traffic back to the levels of 2007 by the end of 2010, the manufacturer said. Boeing said it appears “many industrial shippers have turned to air cargo in response to the overcorrection that constrained capacity in other modes of transport, particularly containerships.”
Boeing expects Asia to lead the expansion in the near term and over the next 20 years.
The company forecasts intra-Asia cargo traffic will grow 7.9 percent over the next two decades, led by 9.2 percent growth in China domestic air cargo.
Intra-North America traffic, meantime, will grow only 3 percent per year while Europe-North America is forecast to grow only at an average annual 4.2 percent rate, Boeing said.
Getting to 5.9 percent annual growth would mark a departure from long-term trends in the air cargo business. Boeing says world air cargo traffic grew at an average annual rate of just 1.9 percent from 1999 to 2009, and intra-North America traffic fell at a rate of 2.5 percent in that time.