Air freight demand remained stagnant from June 2010 to the end of 2012 and has not achieved net growth since 2007.
According to Air Cargo Management Group’s Air Freight and Express Performance Analysis 2013
, which covers the international market, there will be few signs of market growth this year.
The industry did take in $96 million in 2011, a record revenue that rose by 8 percent when compared to 2010. ACMG, however, noted this increase came from fuel surcharges and predicts revenues will be down for 2012.
The company found demand will decrease even as world trade expands, but air freight growth will eventually return to a rate of 3 percent to 5 percent per year.
“Unfortunately, no one — ACMG included — is predicting a near-term return to steady growth of 6 percent per year, a rate which was commonplace before 2000,” Robert Dahl, managing director of ACMG, said in a statement announcing the report.
The general lack of air cargo demand has put freighters out of favor. The backlog of widebody freighters fell in 2012 due to 50 deliveries, but carriers also stopped ordering new planes, deciding to defer orders or chosing to cancel requests altogether. ACMG predicts cancellations and deferrals will continue this year.
“ACMG has detected a significant change in attitude regarding the use of freighters,” Dahl said. “Faced with a lack of growth in air cargo demand and the high cost of fuel, many combination carriers are increasing their reliance on belly space, and reducing their use of freighters.”
Even as freighters become less popular, so to has a substantial section of the passenger-to-freighter conversion market. Order activity for both large- and medium-capacity widebody planes is weak, while narrowbody requests remain strong. - Jon Ross