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strength and is “projected to return to trend growth by 2018”. Approx-
imately 2-3 percent growth is anticipated for the 2016 full year after
almost 10 years of air cargo struggle following the 2008-09 global fi-
nancial crisis. Since 2011, two principal factors have stunted increases:
“an underperforming world economy and lacklustre growth in trade”.
Growth of 1.9 percent in air cargo demand last year, following 4.8
percent in 2014, marked a third consecutive year of positive gains
after a 1.2 percent decline two years earlier, according to the WACF,
which paints an optimistic picture. “ Traffic will gradually accelerate,
and return to long-term growth in 2018.”
Growing strongly is electronic commerce, which is projected to
more than double — growing from US$1.7 trillion to US$3.6 trillion
over the next five years. Boeing says that Asia-Pacific (which it
does not define) is the “fastest growing ‘e-commerce’ trading bloc”,
led by China.
Reviewing regional markets, Boeing says 2016 saw “increasingly af-
fluent” Asian consumers helping to drive strong air-trade growth from
Europe. Despite a weak world economy, some national and intra-re-
gional markets, such as domestic China and intra-Europe, grew 4.9
percent and 5 percent, respectively — “well above” last year ’s average
1.9 percent global growth, according to the manufacturer, which sees
domestic China as “the fastest-growing contiguous market ”.
Nevertheless, varying regional growth means that air-cargo mar-
ket shares will continue to change. “Intra-Asia is the fifth-largest, but
will be the third-largest by 2035.” Overall, traffic associated with Asia
will “increase from 53.8 percent in 2015 to 60.5 percent in 2035”.
The new forecast is set against an uncertain background, ac-
cording to the US manufacturer. “Global growth in 2015 remained
dampened amid volatility in financial markets, commodity prices,
and exchange rates. Worldwide GDP [gross domestic product]
growth continued a pattern of below-trend growth evident since
the global economic downturn.”
While “advanced” economies improved gradually — driven by
stronger labour markets and “solid” consumer spending patterns
Boeing says that they were unable to accelerate that trend last
year . “Many emerging markets saw economic challenges in
an environment characterised by falling commodity prices.”
In contrast, growth in China remained resilient, benefitting from
low prices. Indeed, growth accelerated as the country moved from
industry to a more service and consumer-driven economy — a trend
that Boeing suggests “puts pressure on trade-intensive sectors”.
Otherwise, emerging markets generally will grow at 4.3 percent per
year, with Asia-Pacific economies (excluding Japan) leading the way
at an average 4.8 percent.
Boeing reports the World Bank tracing “recent ” sluggish invest-
ment to economic challenges in previously fast-growing commod-
ity-exporting countries that are now facing economic challenges
after their primary revenue source had weakened. “In combination
with the slowdown in China’s industrial sector intensifying in 2015,
global trade experienced very little stimulus recently. On the contrary,
supply-chain linkages in Asia likely increased the negative impact
on trade,” according to the WACF.
The manufacturer predicts intra-Asia traffic growing “faster than
any other ” international market, averaging 5.5 percent per year.
Asia-North America and Europe-Asia trade will grow at 4.6 percent
per year overall, says the WACF. Domestic China will be the fastest
growing contiguous market in the world, averaging 6.2 percent
annual growth for the forecast period.
Asia and North America
Considering geographic markets, air trade in both directions be-
tween Asia and North America in 2016-35 will grow at an average
4.6 percent per year, according to Boeing. Asia-North America
business will grow slightly faster than reciprocal cargo. This market
represents almost a quarter of all global traffic and nearly a tenth of
tonnage, says the WACF. Eastbound cargo weight was 2.7 million
tonnes, compared with 1.6 million tonnes in the opposite direction;
the USA accounted for 93 percent of overall Asia trade with North
America. At 47.8 percent in 2015, China has the largest share of such
trade, while that of Japan — Number 2 in Asia — has declined in the
past 20 years to 15.5 percent.
Asia and Europe
Representing about a fifth of world traffic (and a tenth of tonnage),
the Europe-Asia market has averaged 6.4 percent per year growth
since 1995, with 5.3 percent eastbound traffic growth having been
over-shadowed by a larger 7.2 percent annual increase in the other
Boeing defines the countries comprising geographic regions in the
forecast: Asia constitutes “the eastern Pacific Rim countries” Australia,
Cambodia, China (sometimes including the Hong Kong and Macau
special administrative districts), Hong Kong and Macau (when not
included in China), Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the
Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam;
South Asia comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
BOEING 20-YEAR WORLD AIR CARGO FORECAST
Source: Boeing World Air Cargo Forecast
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