Airbus receives zero orders for freighter aircraft this year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 3:51am

A prolonged down-cycle in the air cargo market has taken a heavy toll on demand for new freighter aircraft, with Airbus receiving zero orders so far this year.

"We will see a pick-up in buying behaviour once the surplus in freighter aircraft is absorbed," Andreas Hermann, vice-president freighters for Airbus, told reporters at a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

Airlines are now focusing on finding cargo to fill the excess capacity of their existing fleets, and getting rid of old freighter aircraft, rather than on expanding their fleets, said Hermann, who added that he expected equilibrium to be restored as soon as the end of next year.

The International Air Transport Association reported that total air cargo revenues for the year declined to levels achieved in 2007 - US$59 billion - and to achieve these revenues carriers had to carry 17 per cent more cargo, while also coping with a 40 per cent rise in jet fuel.

Airbus is upbeat on prospects for long-term cargo demand, however, and projects global air freight traffic to grow by an average of 4.8 per cent annually over the next 20 years to more than 500 billion tonne-kilometres. Some 80 per cent of the traffic will originate in, or be destined for, emerging markets, while the rest will be between developed economies.

Freight traffic from, to and within Asia-Pacific will grow at the fastest pace at 5.5 per cent, the highest among all markets in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Asia-Pacific will further dwarf North America as the biggest market when its share of total traffic rises to 41 per cent in 2032 from 36 per cent now, while North American traffic will drop to 24 per cent from 30 per cent.

Airbus sold five freighters in 2012 after selling seven in 2011.