The global freighter fleet needs to increase by 70% to meet the expected doubling in air cargo volumes by 2037. ATW Online reports that 3,260 freighters will be required in the next 20 years, up from the existing 1,870 aircraft in the fleet, in a mixture of growth and replacement. Air cargo demand is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.2% over the next two decades. The primary source of this growth is cited as the fast-growing Asian economies and the region’s growing middle classes. And, of course, e-commerce is playing its part. Online retail sales hit $2.3trn in 2017, and are expected to surpass the $4.6trn mark in the next three years, triggering demand for smaller freighters.

It is worth noting however, that while freighter leader Boeing claims that some 54% of freight is carried by freighter, in a trend set to continue, although freighters only account for some 8% of the global fleet, Airbus claims that in the next 20 years, the bellyhold share of cargo will rise from 52% to 59%, thus requiring fewer freighters.

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