The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted a bright outlook in its annual market review and forecast, noting that it expects total air cargo traffic, measured in revenue tonne kilometers (RTKs), to grow by 4.5 percent in 2016, followed by stable growth averaging 3.5 percent over the next 20 years. Its projections are based on projected gross domestic product growth, which it assumes is closely linked to air cargo activity.
The agency added that it expects the continued growth of all-cargo carrier capacity and “ongoing security considerations” to increase the market share of international cargo RTKs, at the expense of belly freight flown by passenger carriers. The FAA’s projections predict that the all-cargo market share to ultimately reach 78.1 percent by 2036, up from its current level of 71.8 percent.
With the modal shift to land-based forms of transportation now essentially complete, the FAA said it expects U.S. domestic growth in RTKs to average 0.4 percent annually between 2016 and 2036. This comes on the back of slightly elevated, post-recovery gains of 3.3 percent in 2015, and projected increases of 1.9 percent in 2016.
Likewise, the FAA expects a rebound in global trade to lift average growth rates for international cargo RTKs to 4.7 percent annually, as economic stagnation in Europe improves and the world adjusts to slower growth in China. According to its calculations, international cargo RTKs increased by 1.6 percent in 2015 and will jump by 6.0 percent this year, with growth along the Pacific trade lanes outpacing the three other regions it classifies: Latin, Atlantic and Other International.