World Air Cargo Forecast 2018-2037

We issue the biennial World Air Cargo Forecast (WACF) to provide a comprehensive overview of the air cargo industry. The forecast summarizes the world’s major air trade markets, identifies major trends, and presents forecasts for the future performance and development of markets, as well as for the world freighter airplane fleet.

Forecast Highlights

Air cargo has recovered and is on track to grow 4.2% over the next 20 years

Air cargo traffic grew 10.1 percent in 2017, more than double the long-term average growth rate. In the next 20 years, air cargo traffic is expected to more than double and the world freighter fleet will grow by more than 75 percent.

E-commerce will continue to boost air cargo demand

Global retail e-commerce sales were $2.3 trillion in 2017, more than double the $1.1 trillion spent in 2012. With no signs of slowing down, the e-commerce market size is forecast to double again by 2021, reaching nearly $4.9 trillion.

Asia to lead future growth

Asia will continue to lead the world in average annual air cargo growth, supported by faster-growing economies and expanding middle classes. Domestic China, intra–East Asia, East Asia–North America, and Europe–East Asia markets are all expected to grow faster than the world average growth rate, demonstrating that markets within, serving, and connecting to Asia will lead growth in the next decade and beyond.

Freighters will continue to carry more than half of the world’s air cargo demand

While passenger belly capacity is increasing, freighters maintain a market share advantage for several reasons, which include providing highly controlled transport, direct routing, reliability, and unique capacity considerations (volume, weight, hazardous materials, and dimensions). These factors make freighter operations essential and are driving the forecast for freighters to continue carrying more than half of the world’s air cargo in the next 20 years.

Air cargo volumes growing amid international trade surge

China online retail sales have passed $1 trillion

East Asia markets will continue to lead industry growth and expand their share of total world air cargo

Freighters are critical to compete in air cargo markets