Air cargo shippers still waiting for new Boeing freighter’s debut
September 19, 2011 - LM Editorial
Shippers anticipating the launch of Boeing’s the 747-8 Freighter have been disappointed by the cancellation today.
At issue, it seems, is a contract negotiation with one of the manufacturer’s key clients – Cargolux.
“We know that Cargolux was bringing in a lot of journalists to cover this event,” said Tom Crabtree, who oversees Boeing’s cargo industry forecasting effort. In an interview with LM, he noted that demand for this capacity has been ramping up.
“The make-up of the world’s freighter fleet will change as fuel efficiency continues to be an imperative, leading to an emphasis on size,” he said. “However the resultant fleet structure may be more nuanced.”
In this case, said analysts, the “nuance” involved the refusal by Cargolux to accept delivery. Published reports contend that the disagreement between Boeing and the airline may also involve compensation for Qatar Airways – which owns 35 percent of Cargolux. Quatar was promised 787 Dreamliner aircraft which have yet to arrive.
According to the just-published Boeing “Current Market Outlook 2011-2030,” long term economic projections are fraught with difficulty.
“Many of the assumptions such as regional and national GDP growth underlying Boeing’s projections are highly variable, influenced by short-term factors,” said Crabtree. “None-the-less, looking at Boeing’s numbers, the growth of air cargo volumes over the past thirty years appears to be remarkably constant; despite the volatility of the underlying economy.”
Admittedly, said Boeing, the structure of the air freight market will change, with emerging markets and longer-range trades becoming even more important; yet a forecast of 5.6 percent does not appear to be unreasonable in the light of historical data.
“If true the air freight sector might prove to be a quite attractive niche within the wider logistics industry,” Crabtree said.
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