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eComm Filling Air Cargo Holds

Freighter Conversions Filling Demand for Winged Delivery

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Online orders are expected to grow to a third of all air cargo by 2027, continuing a growth trend over the past decade, say industry reports.

eComm packages accounted for 20 percent of air cargo in 2022, or 170 billion individual packages, a number expected to hit 256 billion in the next five years, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Air freight executives cite ecommerce as the biggest expected driver of growth, according to Air Cargo News. More than half of those polled cited online orders as their biggest vertical for potential growth. No other category cleared 10 percent in that poll, with pharmaceuticals (9.7 percent) and automotive (7.5 percent) running distant second and third.

The coronavirus pandemic pushed multiple shifts into the air cargo industry. Online orders started to fill holds, and customer expectation of expedited delivery increased. At the same time, airline passenger traffic dropped steeply, prompting operators to convert a large number of idled passenger planes into cargo freighters.

“We basically have an entire world that is trying to become more prepared for natural disasters, pandemics, wars, insurrections and supply-chain disruptions,” Brian McCarty, VP of sales and marketing for conversion company Mammoth Freighters, recently told FlightGlobal.

Smaller regional jets like Embraer’s E190 joined bigger mothballed passenger planes from Boeing and Airbus in conversion, while airlines partnered with logistics companies to carry increasing amounts of cargo in the hold of passenger flights. Boeing and Airbus also offer freighter versions of several airliners new from the factory.

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