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Boeing exec re-assures IATA symposium freighter role will expand

DESPITE yawning bellyholds in the giant passenger aircraft, dedicated freighters will continue to play an important role in air cargo supply chains, said Tom Crabtree, regional director, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, reported London's Air Cargo News

Boeing exec re-assures IATA symposium freighter role will expand

DESPITE yawning bellyholds in the giant passenger aircraft, dedicated freighters will continue to play an important role in air cargo supply chains, said Tom Crabtree, regional director, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, reported London's Air Cargo News

21 March 2019 - 19:00

DESPITE yawning bellyholds in the giant passenger aircraft, dedicated freighters will continue to play an important role in air cargo supply chains, said Tom Crabtree, regional director, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, reported London's Air Cargo News.

Speaking to IATA's World Cargo Symposium in Singapore, Mr Crabtree told an audience at IATA's World Cargo Symposium in Singapore: 'Freighters will remain the backbone of the world air cargo industry. Passenger lower-hold capacity, while plentiful, is not sufficient to meet air cargo traffic demand.



'Most passenger belly capacity does not serve key cargo trade routes, while twin-aisle passenger schedules often do not meet shipper timing needs and freight forwarders prefer palletised capacity, which is not available on single-aisle aircraft,' he said.



'Passenger bellies cannot serve the hazardous material and project cargo sectors, while payload-range considerations on passenger airplanes may limit cargo-carriage.'



Mr Crabtree said that analysis of the global trade regime suffered from a lack of data, but Boeing has invested in a number of consultancies, including the London-based maritime specialists Clarksons which estimates that the maritime sector transports 12 billion tonnes of freight every year, of which only about 1.9 billion tonnes is put on containerships.



Citing over-enthusiastic reporting of the threat to air cargo from boxships, Crabtree said: 'There is this big bogeyman of the containership that was going to take all of our cargo traffic, not only on freighters but also passenger bellies.



'If you were to read the trade press you would believe that these containerships were made with a mythical material called Unobtainium and that they were so incredibly fast and you could waterski behind them.



'Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have been studying the containership industry as much as we have been studying the air cargo industry, so we really understand that this is a niche industry on many different levels.'



Part of its research efforts has seen Boeing revise the oft quoted figure that air cargo accounts for 1 per cent of transported global freight tonnages, with Mr Crabtree saying that it is 'much less than one per cent' while agreeing with the consensus that more than one-third of freight by value goes by air.



'Freighters are vital, and I cannot ever emphasise this enough, they are vital to the functioning of the air cargo industry,' he said.



He said that airlines operating freighters generated nearly 90 per cent of industry revenues in air cargo. He used 2017 statistics that split the $100.2 billion in total airfreight revenues into four sectors: express carriers at $42.9 billion, combination carriers at $36.3 billion, all-cargo operators at $9.1 billion and passenger bellies-only at $11.9 billion.



'If you want to make money in the air freight industry, freighters are required for roughly three of the four major business models.'


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