The freighter aircraft market is projected to grow with a CAGR of more than 4.5% during the forecast period.

  • The freighter aircraft market demand is primarily driven by factors such as the rise in new trade relationships among different countries and rapid growth in e-commerce activities across the globe.
  • According to IATA, air cargo represents less than 1% of global trade by volume (airlines transport more than 52 million metric tons of goods annually), and more than 35 % of global trade by value (air cargo value is over USD 6.8 trillion annually).
  • The trade conflict between the United States and China, recurring political and financial market instability in some emerging markets are some of the factors that will hamper the growth of air cargo demand thereby affecting the freighter aircraft demand during the forecast period.
  • Amid the global pandemic COVID-19, many airlines are temporarily converting their passenger aircraft into cargo aircraft for transportation of medical equipment and cover up the loss as air passenger transportation is restricted in major aviation hubs.

Key Market Trends

Derivative of Non-Cargo Aircraft Segment is Anticipated to Register the Highest CAGR During the Forecast Period

The Derivative of Non-Cargo Aircraft segment accounts for more than 60% of the market share and is anticipated to register the highest CAGR during the forecast period. This is mainly due to the increasing preference of the airlines to replace their old and ageing passenger aircraft into freighter aircraft. During conversion, the aircraft is reinforced with floors that can handle the weight of the freight. In addition, there are changes to aircraft fire detection systems, ventilation, and temperature control. This is because freighter aircraft have different requirements than passenger aircraft and must comply with different standards. Some of the available passenger-to-freighter (P2F) aircraft programs are B737, B757, A320, and A321. In February 2020, Elbe Flugzeugwerke, a joint venture of Airbus and ST Engineering received a supplementary type certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency for Airbus A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion. In late 2019, ST Engineering received two new orders for the A321 P2F aircraft conversion from BBAM, a US-based aircraft leasing company. Such orders for new conversions across the world are anticipated to bolster the growth of this segment of the market during the forecast period.

Asia-Pacific Accounted for a Major Market Share in 2019

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than 30% of air cargo demand. The increasing demand for air cargo is mainly due to the increasing demand for e-commerce. The growing preference for online shopping and the presence of production facilities of electronics, and other commercial goods in countries like China, India, Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam among others are driving the air cargo market. In order to cater to the growing demand, several airlines in the region have placed an order for freighter aircraft (passenger to cargo conversions). ANA Cargo, Garuda Indonesia, Mongolian Airways Cargo, SpiceJet, and Qantas are some of the major airlines that have received freighter aircraft in 2019. Further with the growing demand for air cargo, the demand for freighter aircraft in the region is anticipated to grow during the forecast period.

Competitive Landscape

The freighter aircraft market is fragmented with several players. These players include aircraft OEMs, third-party contractors or independent companies that enter into cooperation agreements with the OEM, and third-party contractors that develop their conversion solutions independently. Some of the prominent players in the market are The Boeing Company, Airbus, ATR, and Textron Inc. These players provide freighter aircraft models for its customers. For instance, Boeing has 24 freighter aircraft (12 B767Fs and 12 B777Fs) and 18 freighter aircraft (28 B747Fs and 4 B767Fs) on order from FedEx and UPS, respectively. The deliveries of the aircraft are scheduled during the forecast period. In addition to this, companies like Boeing, Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Precision Aircraft Solution are the prominent players in providing the conversion services. The fragmentation in the market is set to increase with new players entering the market, who provide aircraft conversion services. Recently, in May 2020, Lufthansa Technik announced that it is currently converting an Airbus A380 to a freight version (temporary conversion) for an undisclosed customer. Similarly, IPR Conversions Ltd and Sabena Technics were selected by Cebu Pacific Air to convert two of its ATR 72-500 aircraft into freighter aircraft.

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