A Middle Eastern monopoly

THE latest IATA report estimates that global air cargo will increase to 400 million tonnes a year by 2050 and international air cargo revenues are expected to rise above US$70 billion for the first time.

An increasing amount of this will originate from Middle Eastern carriers, which are ramping up fleet capacity and expanding routes.

Qatar Airways and Emirates are looking to turn their bases into global cargo hubs. Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport, which received its first cargo flight in the summer of 2010, eyes the status as the world’s largest cargo hub.

Emirates aims to add as many as 18 freighters in Dubai, while Qatar Air is converting 15 passenger jets to freighters and will buy 35 per cent of Cargolux Airlines International, Europe’s largest freight-only carrier.

Qatar, which currently has five freighters, will bring online a further 11 with the addition of 747Fs from Cargolux. The total may reach 31 including the A330 passenger models earmarked for conversion.

Emirates has eight 747 and 777Fs, plus orders for five 747-8s and two 777s and nine options, giving a possible total of 24 dedicated cargo aircraft.

Air cargo moving into, within, and out of the Middle East is estimated to have accounted for 7.7 per cent of the world’s tonnage and for 6.9 per cent of global revenue tonne-kilometres during 2009. The projected annual growth rate for the next 20 years is 4.0 per cent, the Boeing World Air Cargo Forecast said.

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