Boeing Delivers Optimistic Freighter Prognosis

In its newly published Current Market Outlook 2014 - 2033 the U.S. plane maker predicts a bright future for freighter aircraft. The demand for both production and passenger-to-freighter converted aircraft will increase within the next two decades, writes Boeing.

Boeing predicts steady demand for freighter aircraft over the next two decades  /  source: Boeing
Boeing predicts steady demand for freighter aircraft over the next two decades / source: Boeing

According to Boeing the market for freighter aircraft looks bright within the next twenty years. This forecast, timed perfectly with the beginning of the Farnborough Air Show, is highly surprising, obviously based on the author’s unbroken trust that things in cargo will go on the way they have in the past.
Today’s fleet of western-built cargo planes will go up from currently 1,690 units to 2,730 freighters in 2033 forecasts Boeing. “Future freighter demand will be led by large widebodies,” is stated in the market outlook.

What is fiction, what reality?
Predicting customer demand for 840 new production freighters within the next two decades is seen as a pretty courageous forecast by industry experts. They recall that the trend today and in the coming years is clearly towards increased demand for large passenger aircraft capable of carrying high loads of cargo in their lower deck compartments. This is confirmed by carriers like IAG(BA + IB), JAL, SU and soon probably AF-KL-MP who already got (or will get) rid of their freighter fleets. Instead, they rely on the lower deck capacity of their passenger jets to transport cargo.
As it seems, this development which might just be the tip of the iceberg is obviously not reflected by the Boeing market experts, as their optimistic freighter figures indicate.

Is the CMO a promo tool?
This raises the (nasty) question if their current market outlook is partly used as a tool to promote and stimulate further sales of their own freighter programs, predominantly their big flagship 747-8F that’s anything but selling well - in contrast to their Triple Seven freighters. 
And another aspect is noteworthy: their modest forecast for medium-sized freighters, capable of transporting between 40 and 80 tons. This is exactly the spectrum covered by Airbus with their A330s, be it production freighters or future conversions. Boeing says that only 250 of these mid-sized aircraft will enter service between now and 2033, averaging 12.5 aircraft per year. If so, Airbus should reconsider the production of their A330Fs and rather use the released capacity to up the production rate right of their new A350 variant right from the start.
So, how much is product promotion, how much reality in Boeing’s Current Market Outlook? One wonders. The answer might be given next fall when the plane maker publishes an updated version of its biennial ‘World Air Cargo Forecast’.


Heiner Siegmund

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