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The Impact of Air Cargo on the Global Economy

  • Date Submitted: 07/14/2011 01:29 PM
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The Impact of Air Cargo on the Global Economy
Overview of the air cargo industry
The global air cargo industry represents almost 100 billion revenue ton-miles of
transportation, an estimated $52 billion in direct revenue in 2005 and substantially more
revenues in related trucking and logistics services. In this paper, we combine data from
many sources with new analysis of systematic data to characterize the nature of the air
cargo industry and examine its impact on the global economy.
Our analysis indicates that the air cargo industry is responsible for transporting
approximately 29.9 percent of all international trade (by some estimates, substantially
more) and 34.6 percent of non-land-based trade with an annual value of $2.7 trillion in
2004. With time-definite international transactions, production flexibility and speed
characterizing much of the new economy, it is nearly certain that air cargo will play an
increasingly vital role in the global economy. No other means of transportation is better
equipped to meet the economic realities of the new era where global sourcing and
selling, and just-in-time logistics, require that producers receive and ship smaller
quantities more frequently, quickly and reliably over long distances.
Global exports (by volume and value) have outpaced production (by volume) which has,
in turn, outpaced economic growth indicating a substantial restructuring of production
and distribution. Air cargo has outpaced all, increasing by approximately 80 percent,
over the last decade despite recessions and other setbacks to air transport. Scheduled
air cargo service providing an estimated 4,396,353 tons of weekly air cargo capacity is
available at over 3,400 airports in 220 countries. Charter and integrated express
companies provide additional capacity.
With McKinsey estimating that the 20 percent of manufactured goods that are traded
internationally today will rise to 80 percent by 2020, the air cargo industry is poised...

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