New Freighter Forecast Projects Ample Fleet Growth Through 2038

  • Kathryn Grant
  • May 8, 2019
  • Press

Cargo Facts Consulting publishes its new 20-year forecast today.

Cargo Facts Consulting (CFC), a leading global consultancy to the air logistics industry and a sister venture of industry newsletter Cargo Facts, today released its latest forecast for the global freighter aircraft fleet, and projected significant growth in the global freighter aircraft fleet over the next 20 years.

“We predict long-term air cargo traffic growth to come in at just under 4% per year”, said CFC’s Managing Director Frederic Horst, adding that “this translates into the demand for over 3,300 aircraft from feeders to large jets”.

Over the next twenty years CFC’s Freighter Forecast projects the addition of 2,380 jet freighters and 421 feeder aircraft to cater for both growth and retirements of older aircraft. Roughly half of these additions will replace aircraft retired from the fleet. During this period, the consultancy forecasts that the world’s jet freighter fleet to grow from 1,782 to 2,920 units, and the world’s feeder fleet to expand from 239 to 431 units.

Factory-built freighters are forecast to make up 34% of aircraft additions in the jet freighter segment, albeit with large differences across individual categories. CFC foresees 21% of new additions in the feeder segment will be satisfied by production freighters.”

“Operating economics mean that, particularly in the large widebody segment, production freighter are king”, notes Horst. “However, in the narrowbody segment we foresee that all freighters will continue to be converted passenger aircraft.”

As such the availability of suitable passenger aircraft for conversion is a key factor in meeting the demand for new freighters. Because of the importance of this topic, this year’s Freighter Forecast contains a special section on passenger-to-freighter feedstock supply. A new add-on Feedstock analysis tool examines the potential feedstock supply for popular 21 different passenger aircraft types with active or potential conversion programs from ATR-42s through to 777-300ERs.

“The grounding of the 737 MAX fleet has created short- to medium-term disruptions in this sector and is delaying the transition from older generation to new generation narrowbody freighter aircraft”, explains Horst.

As in previous years, the report takes a detailed look at expected near-term and long-term developments in the turboprop/regional jet, narrowbody, medium and large widebody segments. The 2019 report has additional details on the turboprop/regional jet segment of the freighter market, where CFC projects notable growth.

“There’s not enough attention paid to the feeder side of the freighter market today,” Horst said. “We’re rightly changing that with the 2019 Forecast.”

This 14th edition of the yearly report includes CFC’s prediction for the freighter fleet make-up for all four segments in 2038, taking into account an assessment of new-build freighter production, passenger-to-freighter (P-to-F) conversion activity, and the retirement of freighters from the existing freighter fleet.

As the world’s only comprehensive and independent freighter forecast, the Cargo Facts Freighter Forecast has been the fundamental resource for strategic analysis of the current and future freighter fleet since 2006. For more information or to order the newly released edition, please visit


Cargo Facts Consulting (CFC) is the premier aviation consulting firm specializing in the freighter aircraft, air freight and express businesses. The firm’s extensive experience stretches over forty years, beginning with the deregulation of the U.S. domestic air cargo industry in 1978. Since then, the firm has served a wide variety of U.S. and international clients, including integrated express operators, all-cargo airlines, combination carriers, financial institutions, airport authorities, aircraft manufacturers, and industry suppliers. CFC has an outstanding reputation within the industry and is quoted frequently in the press on matters relating to air freight markets and the application of freighter aircraft. For more information, visit CFC is a unit of Royal Media at

Report author and Cargo Facts Consulting Managing Director Frederic Horst has 18 years of strategy, planning, commercial, operational and government experience across the air cargo, express, aviation and transportation infrastructure business. He has held senior positions with Air Bridge Cargo, Air Cargo Germany, DHL Aviation and Cargolux, as well as the State Government in New South Wales.