Nation may become air cargo battlefield

By Lu Haoting (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-20 09:46

China is likely to become a major battlefield for cargo plane makers in the next 20 years as the country's air cargo sector maintains a more than 10 percent annual growth.

The country would need 568 freight carriers by 2026, more than 10 times the size of the present fleet, as its air cargo industry continues to boom, China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I) said yesterday.

By the end of last year, Chinese airlines were operating 46 freighters with a commercial payload of 2,300 tons, an AVIC I report said. AVIC I is one of the country's leading aircraft manufacturers.

"China's air cargo market will maintain an annual growth rate of 10.5 percent in the next two decades, which is slightly higher than the growth rate of the passenger transport market," said Liao Quanwang, vice-president of Aviation Industry Development Research Center of China, which is affiliated to AVIC I.

The fast growth is being fueled by China's booming foreign trade, which provides abundant cargo to air carriers, Liao said.

The air cargo sector will also benefit from the country's determination to upgrade its foreign trade and focus more on exporting hi-tech products, Li said.

Only 5.6 percent of China's international cargo was transported by air in 1995. But by the 2005, the figure had reached 19 percent, the report said.

The world's leading aircraft makers, Airbus and Boeing, too are upbeat about China's air cargo market. Promoting its double-decker A380 super- jumbo and A350XWB, Airbus brought a 1:50 A330-200F model to Aviation Expo/China 2007.

The A330-200F is the European firm's latest freighter program and is a derivative of the A330 family aircraft. Sixty-six orders had been placed for the mid-size, long-haul, all-cargo aircraft by the end of August, and Airbus will start delivering from 2009.

Boeing has said China's air cargo market will continue to lead the world in the next two decades during which its fleet of cargo planes will more than quadruple in size.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industry Updates)

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