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Air Freight Market

Air Freight Market Size, Share, Competitive Landscape and Trend Analysis Report by Service, Destination and End-Use : Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020-2027

AT : Freight & Logistics

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Author's: Mayank Halmare | Lalit Janardhan Katare
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Air Freight Market Statistics 2021-2027:

The global air freight market was valued at $270.2 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $376.8 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 5.6%.    

Air freight is a transportation mode of delivering fast-speed shipments via aircraft mostly for longer distances. Air freight contributes to the global economic development as the global economy relies on the capability to transport valuable and superior quality products rapidly to consumers across the world. Attributed to fast delivery speeds and temperature-sensitive space in aircraft, vaccines are usually sent via aircraft to help reach their required destination in time to be effective. According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations programs help prevent around 3 million child deaths annually. Air freight plays a crucial in delivering temperature-sensitive medications in the best conditions by means of state-of-the-art procedures and technologies. Although air freight accounts approximately 1% of the total freight activities by weight, and it is quite expensive to ship products via aircraft, it is quite valuable mode to transport jewelry, perishable items, pharmaceuticals, costly electronic items, and others.


The air freight business is experiencing a transformation in technology and is evolving from an excessive usage of old mainframe systems to more adaptable interfaces employed for processes such as flight operations, revenue accounting, networking planning, and others. Moreover, the rising usage of cool-chain tech, robotics, automated systems, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, deep learning, IoT, and augmented & virtual reality across several operations is anticipated to boost the growth of the global air freight market over the forecast period. 

Faster delivery of shipments as compared with other logistics solutions and rising popularity of consolidated airfreight service are anticipated to boost the growth of the air freight market during the forecast period. However, high costs associated with air freight solutions are expected to hinder the growth of the market. 

The market segmentation is based on service, destination, end-use, and region. The service segment is divided into freight, express, mail, and other services. Depending on destination, the market is bifurcated into domestic and international. By end-use, it is fragmented into private and commercial. Region-wise, it is analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.

Key players operating in the global air freight market include Bolloré Logistics, DB SCHENKER, Deutsche Post AG, DSV Panalpina, Expeditors International of Washington, Inc., FedEx, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Kuehne+Nagel International AG, Nippon Express, and United Parcel Service, Inc.

Faster delivery of shipments as compared with other logistics solutions

The delivery of items via cargo planes is the fastest way among other modes of transportation. While other modes of transportation, for instance, shipping, rail or road transport, usually take days or weeks to deliver the items, air transport makes the delivery of items in just a few hours. Attributed to the presence of lesser stock to unload in comparison with cargo ships, the customs clearance is quick and the requirement for local warehousing is much lesser. Moreover, air freight is the safest among all other modes as goods sent via air go through least handling and the safety controls at airports are strictly managed.

This decreases the risk of both theft and damage to the shipment. In addition, as the shipment duration is quite short, the insurance premiums on air freight are usually low. These factors make air freight a superior and essential mode of goods transportation. Air cargo ships of around $6 trillion worth of goods account for nearly 35% of the global trade by value. According to IATA, 328 billion letters and 7.4 billion packages are delivered annually, and air freight plays an important role in their delivery. 

Air freight is particularly favorable for shipment of high-value goods such as electronics, jewelry, pharmaceuticals, perishables, and other items. Initially, only fruit, flowers, and vegetables were transported via cargo aircraft. However, over the years, airlines have managed to develop procedures and facilities for handling frozen and chilled items with chilled storage and freighter capacity along with the development of temperature-controlled packing techniques. Moreover, attributed to the high-profit margins associated with jewelry and pharmaceuticals and the fact that several electronic goods are delicate, air freight is the most suitable form of transport.

Air Freight Market
By Service
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Express is projected as the most lucrative segment

Rising popularity of consolidated air freight service

Air freight service providers offer four options for making the delivery. They are charter, standard, deferred, and consolidated. Consolidated air freight service provides the users with an economical method of transportation that offers the advantage of lower rates and reliable schedules, enabling their users to perfectly plan their supply chains. While air freight offers some advantages over ocean freight (a much cheaper logistics mode), such as quicker delivery times and less handling time of high-value goods, it at times faces low acceptance due to its high cost. However, air freight is a flexible transportation mode that can be custom-made to fit the client's needs. As the option of consolidated air freight service increases the feasibility of air freight services, several major companies, such as The Maersk Group, DSV, UPS, DHL, QATAR Cargo, and FedEx, offer consolidation services.  

Consolidated air freight option gives the opportunity to the clients to bundle their consignment with a number of other items to create a full load, owing to which consolidated air freight becomes quite economical for moving the goods via plane. Moreover, consolidated freight is profitable to both delivery service companies and airlines as it is more cost-effective to fly an airplane with a full cargo load in comparison with flying an airplane with partial load. Air freight consolidation is the most affordable way to ship goods in a faster & safer way, and the rising popularity of consolidated air freight service is expected to drive the growth of the global air freight market over the forecast timeframe.  

Air Freight Market
By Destination
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Domestic is projected as the most lucrative segment

High costs associated with air freight solution

Air freight is selected by global importers and exporters to deliver goods quickly and safely. Although around 90% of deliveries are shipped through ocean freight, air freight makes the deliveries much faster; for instance, it cuts the U.S.-China freight delivery time from about 20 to 30 days by the ocean to just 3 days via air. However, air freight incurs huge costs. According to the World Bank, air freight incurs around 4-5 times the price involved in road transport and 12-16 times the amount spent on ocean freight. 

When it comes to air freight delivery, weight and volume are the key factors that determine the cost of shipping. Air carriers typically charge by considering either the volumetric weight or real weight, depending on which is more costly. Beyond this, the air freight price also probably includes several costs such as fuel surcharges, terminal handling charges, security surcharges, and airport transfers. In addition, for door-to-door delivery, the amount comprises air cargo services, including pickup & delivery, cargo insurance, customs brokerage, and accessorial charges. Moreover, the fluctuating prices of aviation fuel also impact air freight operations. Therefore, the high cost related to air freight deliveries is anticipated to hamper the growth of the global air freight market over the forecast timeline.

Air Freight Market
By End Use
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Private is projected as the most lucrative segment

Significant growth rate in the e-commerce sector

Over the last few years, e-commerce has gained strong traction across the globe to become a crucial part of the global sales structure. It has transformed the methods of logistics. Today, numerous customers are requesting faster deliveries; hence, the operational models are evolving to speed up shipping. Air freight is quite suitable for offering swift deliveries. International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that e-commerce held a market share of about 15% of air cargo volumes in 2019. This trend toward e-commerce is continuously expanding and has speeded up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2005, worldwide internet retail trade has grown by around 20% a year on average, which is far rapid than conventional store-based sales. The International Post Corporation (IPC) considers that the share has now registered 25%. Besides the increasing domestic volumes shipped by small and large e-retailers, the swiftly-growing cross-border e-commerce remains a key growth driver for the overall increase in e-commerce sales. According to IATA, air cargo holds a share of more than 35% of international trade by value. People are now purchasing more and more often via online platforms while cross-border e-commerce volumes are also increasing. E-commerce is expected to be the future growth driver for the air freight industry as online retailing increases the demand for package transport services across the world. The rising e-commerce shipments across the globe via air freight are anticipated to bolster the growth of the global air freight market over the forecast timeframe. 

Air Freight Market
By Region
North America

Asia Pacific would exhibit the highest CAGR of 6.3% during 2020-2027.

COVID-19 Impact Analysis 

  • The COVID-19 impact on the air freight market is unpredictable and is expected to remain in force till the second quarter of 2021. 
  • The COVID-19 outbreak forced the governments to impose strict lockdown measures that resulted in flight cancellations, closure of ports, and ban on e-commerce services, which led to massive decline in logistics activities across the world. 
  • Moreover, nationwide lockdowns disrupted the supply-chain as several manufacturing facilities across the globe had to partially or fully shut down their operations.
  • The adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in huge supply-demand issues and resulted in long delays in the activities of air freight operations globally. 

Key Benefits For Stakeholders

  • This study presents the analytical depiction of the global air freight market analysis along with the current trends and future estimations to depict imminent investment pockets.
  • The overall air freight market opportunity is determined by understanding profitable trends to gain a stronger foothold.
  • The report presents information related to the key drivers, restraints, and opportunities of the global air freight market with a detailed impact analysis.
  • The current air freight market is quantitatively analyzed from 2019 to 2027 to benchmark the financial competency.
  • Porter’s five forces analysis illustrates the potency of the buyers and suppliers in the industry.

Key Market Segments

By Service

  • Freight
  • Express
  • Mail
  • Other Services

By Destination

  • Domestic
  • International

By End-Use

  • Private
  • Commercial

By Region

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
    • Mexico
  • Europe
    • Germany
    • France
    • Russia
    • UK
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia-Pacific
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Rest of Asia-Pacific
    • Latin America
    • Middle East
    • Africa

Key Players

  • Bolloré Logistics
  • DB SCHENKER (Deutsche Bahn Group (DB GROUP))
  • Deutsche Post AG (DHL GROUP)
  • DSV Panalpina 
  • Expeditors International of Washington, Inc.
  • FedEx
  • Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
  • Kuehne+Nagel International AG
  • Nippon Express
  • United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS)

Air Freight Market Report Highlights

Aspects Details
  • Freight
  • Express
  • Mail
  • Other Services
  • Domestic
  • International
  • Private
  • Commercial
By Region
  • North America  (U.S., Canada, Mexico)
  • Europe  (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Russia, Rest of Europe)
  • Asia-Pacific  (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Rest of Asia-Pacific)
  • LAMEA  (Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Argentina, Rest of LAMEA)
Key Market Players


Analyst Review

The global air freight market is expected to witness significant growth due to the rising demand for fast deliveries of items bought via e-commerce.

Faster delivery of shipments as compared with other logistic solutions and the rising popularity of consolidated airfreight services are expected to provide lucrative opportunities for the air freight market during the forecast period. However, high costs associated with air freight solutions and stringent regulations associated with air freight are expected to restrain the growth of the air freight market during the forecast period. Moreover, the significant growth rate in the e-commerce sector and the upcoming technological advancements are expected to offer lucrative opportunities for the market in the future.

Air freight is the fastest way to deliver shipments particularly if it requires long-distance travel. It is the most reliable and a secure means of transportation that incurs lowest insurance premiums due to shorter transportation times for air cargo. It is quite suitable to deliver valuable, fragile, and perishable items, for which in-time and safe delivery is a must. Moreover, as vaccines require temperature-sensitive settings and faster deliveries to be effective, the rising demand for vaccines is the key driver for the growth of charter services across the globe.   

Machine learning is one of the newest methodologies being used in the freight industry to provide a competitive edge to companies. It examines data and allows the management to make suitable business decisions using robust data analysis. This provides market insights for the freight industry that lets businesses focus on more effective actions. In addition, numerous air freight carriers are digitalizing their operations. For instance, recently, big air freight players, such as American Airlines Cargo and Qatar Airways Cargo, have started digitalizing their cargo operations. 

Increasing technological advancements, for instance, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics process automation to streamline cargo operations are anticipated to bolster the growth of the air freight market over the years. In addition, increasing investments by several nations to develop and expand dedicated cargo hubs, for example, India is expected to boost the growth of the global air freight market over the forecast timeframe.  

Among the analyzed regions, Asia-Pacific is the highest revenue contributor, followed by North America, Europe, and LAMEA. On the basis of forecast analysis, Asia-Pacific is expected to maintain its lead during the forecast period, owing to the presence of big global production hubs such as China and India. China and India are anticipated to witness significant increase in logistics activities over the forecast period.

Author Name(s) : Mayank Halmare | Lalit Janardhan Katare
Frequently Asked Questions?

The global air freight market valued at $ 270.2 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $ 376.8 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 5.6% from 2020 to 2027.

Increased demand for air freight services. The manufacturing and supply-chain disruptions are expected to bounce back amid the lifting lockdown measures and the consequent resuming of logistics activities across the globe

The report sample for global air freight market report can be obtained on demand from the website.

Increased use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools to improve the logistics and supply-chain operations.

Collaboration, Agreement, Acquisition, Partnership, Product Launch, Joint Venture, Business Expansion, and Investment are the top most competitive developments which are adopted by the leading market players in the global air freight market

The company profiles of the top players of the market can be obtained from the company profile section mentioned in the report. This section includes analysis of top ten player’s operating in the industry along with their last three year revenue, segmental revenue, product offerings, key strategies adopted, and geographical revenue generated

Based on the air freight market analysis, Asia Pacific region accounted for the highest revenue contributor in 2019 and is expected to see lucrative business opportunities during the forecast period

By service, the express segment is expected to gain traction over the forecast period

The U.S and China has are key matured markets growing in the global air freight market

The demand for faster air freight operation; and increasing traction of air freight in developing nations

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Air Freight Market

Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020-2027