Freighter fleet expected to grow by 2.3% per year
24 / 01 / 2023
Aviation data firm Cirium is expecting the world’s freighter fleet to grow at 2.3% per year over the next 20 years.
The data provider predicted that in total the world’s freighter fleet will reach over 4,100 aircraft by 2041 on the back of a 3.7% per year increase in cargo demand.
The forecast predicts the supply of some 3,560 freighter aircraft over the next 20-year period, including 1,060 newbuilds (30%) and 2,480 conversions from passenger aircraft (70%).
This figure reflects the near-term boom in conversions due to air cargo market dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic including e-commerce growth and rising feedstock availability.
“The freighter fleet benefitted during the Covid-19 crisis from the short-term reduction in passenger aircraft belly capacity and the rise of e-commerce will drive longer-term freighter fleet growth.
“Conversion demand is being driven by the rise of e-commerce which gained momentum during lockdowns as well as increasing volumes of feedstock in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis,” Cirium said.
“Focus is increasingly on newer generation conversion programmes, including the A321ceo, 737-800, A330ceo and 777-300ER.”
“Although the current conversion boom may not persist, it is enabling the replacement of older, less efficient aircraft as well as catering for e-commerce growth.”
The data provider said that North America, home of the largest integrators and e-commerce providers, will maintain its leading share of the freighter fleet, albeit reduced from 47% to 38%, as the Chinese market grows its fleet by 11 percentage points to a share of 18%.
This will edge the country ahead of Europe as the second largest global cargo market.
“The Ukraine conflict makes long-term forecasting for the Russia and the CIS market uncertain but in our current scenario, the freighter market is forecast to contract through to 2041, reducing its global share from 7% to just over 3%,” Cirium added.
Last year, Boeing forecast that the global freighter fleet is expected to increase by 60% over a 20-year timeframe to more than 3,600 jets.
This will see the delivery of nearly 2,800 production and converted freighters over the next 20 years for growth and replacement of older aircraft.
Of those 2,800, around 950 are expected to be new production freighters and the rest conversions.
In total, the 2022 Cirium Fleet Forecast (CFF) predicts the delivery of some 44,500 new passenger and freighter jet and turboprop aircraft over the 20 years between 2022 and 2041, worth an estimated $2.9trn.