MIAMI – 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 Cargo Facts Aircraft Symposium in Miami, Bob Dahl, managing director of ACMG, 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.
This 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, which is owned by Air Cargo World’s parent company, Royal Media, 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. Factoring in retirements and passenger-to-freighter conversions, this would result in 2,996 more freighters by 2033. In the low-end scenario of 3 percent annual FTK growth, the freighter totals would rise by 50 percent (2.1 percent annually) over the 20-year period, requiring 1,986 more freighters.
Some other highlights of the ACMG forecast include :
- The current worldwide freighter fleet is comprised of 604 narrow-bodies (38.8 percent of the total); 438 medium wide-bodies (28.1 percent); and 516 wide-bodies (33.1 percent).
- More than 70 wide-bodies were taken out of service in 2013/14, and few orders (about 55 gross) were made for production freighters.
- Of the 177 airlines that operate freighters, the top 33 operate 70 percent of the fleet and have a minimum of 10 freighters each.
- To reach the high-end estimate of freighter growth, 150 will need to be added each year, on average, 65 percent of which would be P-to-F conversion.
- In 2000, narrow-body aircraft held 63 percent of the freighter segment; by 2013, wide-bodies represented 61 percent of the total.