The global air cargo market may be in the middle of its most severe contraction, but there are signs that a bottom was reached earlier this year with the declines moderating in the later part of 2009.

"For the first time in history, we are going to see two years of declines [2008 and 2009] in global annual RTKs, and 24% of the global freighter fleets have been parked. In the near term, there are plenty of uncertainties," says Jim Edgar, regional director for cargo marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"But we are seeing some signs of a moderation, especially in the third and fourth quarter of this year. There are signals from our customers that business is returning."

Growth is expected to resume in 2010, with air freight figures likely to be in tandem with an expansion of international merchandise trading.

"The air cargo industry fundamentals remain sound based on an imperative for speed and reliability, continued product innovation and global interdependence," says Edgar. "Long-term economic and trade growth, fleet modernisation and relatively lower jet fuel prices should stimulate air cargo traffic growth."

Boeing estimates that annual world air cargo traffic levels will nearly triple and the freighter fleet expand by over two-thirds during the next 20 years The total number of freighters will increase from 1,940 in 2008 to 3,250 in 2028, with new freighter deliveries to amount to 710 during that period.

Source: Flight Daily News