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Air Freight Market

Air Freight Market: Information by Service (Freight, Express, Mail), Destination (Domestic, International), End-Use (Private, Commercial), and Region — Forecast till 2030

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Market Snapshot

market snapshot
Base Year:
Study Period:
6 %
Fastest Growing Market:
North America
Largest Market:
Asia Pacific

The global air freight market size was worth USD 295 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 490 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period (2022-2030). Air freight is a kind of transportation that uses aircraft to deliver high-speed shipments over extended distances. Because the global economy relies on the ability to quickly carry valuable and superior quality products to consumers worldwide, air freight helps global economic progress. Vaccinations are typically supplied by airplanes due to aircraft's high delivery rates and temperature-sensitive areas. This helps vaccines reach their required destination in time to be effective.

The air freight industry is undergoing a technological change. It is transitioning from the overuse of old mainframe systems and toward more customizable interfaces for processes like aircraft operations, revenue accounting, networking planning, etc. Furthermore, the growing use of cool-chain technology, robots, automated systems, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, deep learning, IoT, and augmented & virtual reality across various processes is expected to propel the global air freight market forward throughout the forecast period.

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Market Dynamics

Drivers: Faster Delivery of Shipments

The delivery of items through cargo planes is the fastest among other modes of transportation. While different types of vehicles, such as shipping, rail, or road transport, can take days or weeks to deliver things, air transport can do so in hours. Because there are more miniature goods to offload than cargo ships, customs clearance is rapid, and local warehousing is not required. Furthermore, air freight is the safest means of transport among the others because items delivered by air undergo minimal handling, and airport safety standards are tightly enforced. The risk of theft and damage to the package is reduced. Furthermore, due to the short duration of the shipment, air freight insurance costs are typically modest. Because of these factors, air freight is a superior and necessary means of cargo transportation.

On the other hand, airlines have developed methods and facilities for handling frozen and chilled cargo, chilled storage and freighter capacity, and temperature-controlled packing techniques over the years. Furthermore, due to the large profit margins associated with jewelry and pharmaceuticals and the fragility of some electronic goods, air freight is the most appropriate mode of transportation. All of these reasons drive the Air Freight Service market.

Drivers: Rising Popularity of Consolidated Air Freight Service

Four delivery alternatives are available from air freight service companies. Charter, standard, postponed, and consolidated are the four options. Consolidated air freight service provides users with a cost-effective mode of transportation that benefits from lower prices and consistent timetables, allowing them to arrange their supply chains flawlessly.

Clients who choose the Consolidated air freight option can combine their shipment with numerous other items to produce a full load. Consolidated air freight becomes a very cost-effective way to transport goods by plane. Furthermore, transportation service firms and airlines benefit from consolidated shipments since flying an airplane with a full cargo load is more cost-effective than flying an aircraft with a partial cargo load. Consolidated air freight is the most cost-effective way to send goods faster and safer, and the increased popularity of this service is likely to propel the global market forward over the forecast period.

Restraint: High Costs Associated with Air Freight Solution

Weight and volume are the most critical criteria in determining the cost of air freight transportation. Air carriers usually charge based on volumetric or actual weight, whichever is more expensive. Aside from that, the air freight pricing will likely include expenditures like fuel surcharges, terminal handling taxes, security surcharges, and airport transfers.

In addition, the sum includes air cargo services, such as pickup and delivery, cargo insurance, customs brokerage, and accessorial charges, for door-to-door delivery. Furthermore, variable aviation fuel prices have an impact on air freight operations. As a result, the high cost of air freight deliveries is expected to stifle the global  market's growth over the forecast period.

Opportunities: Significant Growth Rate in the E-Commerce Sector

E-commerce has exploded in popularity over the last few years, becoming a critical component of the global sales structure. It has changed the way logistics is done. More clients want speedier deliveries these days. Thus operating models are changing to accommodate them. Air freight is ideal for providing quick deliveries. In 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted that eCommerce accounted for around 15% of all air freight volumes. This e-commerce tendency is continuing to grow and has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo accounts for more than 35% of all international trade-in value. People are increasingly making purchases through online platforms, and cross-border e-commerce volumes are also rising. As online retailing boosts demand for package delivery services worldwide, e-commerce is predicted to be the future growth engine for the air freight business. The growing use of air freight for e-commerce shipments worldwide is expected to boost the global air freight market's growth over the forecast period.


Segmental Analysis of the Global Air Freight Market

The global market share is segmented by service, destination end-user, and region. 

By service, the global air freight market is divided into freight, express, mail, and other services.

  • On the Basis of Service

The freight segment is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% during the forecast period. Despite being an expensive mode of transport, the growing demand for fast deliveries of chemicals, perishables, and other valuable items, along with the increasing demand for just-in-time production of shipments, has resulted in a substantial rise in demand for air freight services worldwide. Moreover, the progressing nature of e-commerce has forced sales channels to deliver faster and operate an optimum supply chain. This development is anticipated to provide excellent prospects for third-party logistics and warehousing services to integrate with airline e-commerce channels.

The express segment witnessed the highest CAGR during the forecast period. Big players active in express shipping have transformed their business models to offer various value-added services across local, cross-border, and inter-regional locations. Companies are incorporating improved methods for picking, sorting, & grading products, packaging, management information systems (MIS), logistics supply chain analytics, e-mail alerts, and SMS for faster and efficient delivery of products. Numerous local and international players offering faster express services are anticipated to boost the growth of this segment over the forecast period.

Mail is the third-largest segment. Letters and parcels that are shipped partially or fully via aircraft are known as air mail. Airmail deliveries are much faster than surface mail and consequently cost more. Airmail is mainly used for sending mail to overseas destinations. Usually, priority mail, priority mail express, and first-class mail are shipped by air and may be shipped by air and ground. The trend of e-commerce is thriving across the globe. E-commerce is witnessing double-digit growth, and order volumes on online platforms are rising. This is expected to boost the development of the air mail segment over the years. 

Depending on the destination, the global market is bifurcated into domestic and international. The domestic segment is the dominant segment. It is projected to reach to grow at a CAGR of 6.7%. Domestic air freight service lets businesses dispatch their products to and from every location within the nation in a few hours. The domestic air carrier can closely check flight schedules and link connecting flights as soon as the delivery request is made. Air freight firms also establish a national air charter that employs an aircraft to deliver any specific order. Moreover, charter freight services allow the companies to address emergency deliveries and provide them a standby preference in case standard freight cannot be arranged. Such factors contribute to market growth. 

Air freight shipping is a quick, efficient, and safe shipping method that is particularly useful for companies requiring to deliver their goods to an international clientele in a short timeframe. International air freight is quite valuable when the client has to ship small shipments of goods as the charges related with port and customs regarding imports through sea/ocean can rise quickly, thus counterbalancing the cost savings while opting for a slower and less secure mode of transportation. Moreover, the rising demand for air freight is expected to boost the growth of the international segment over the forecast period.

By end-use, the global air freight market is fragmented into private and commercial.

  • On the Basis of End-Use

The commercial segment was the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% during the forecast period. Commercial air freight services transport a wide range of goods across domestic and international locations. The upward trend witnessed in the e-commerce sector and rising demand for faster & secure delivery of items across the globe is anticipated to boost the growth of this segment over the forecast years. Moreover, rising developments, such as acquisitions, partnerships, product offerings, and others, are anticipated to offer lucrative opportunities for the segment's growth over the forecast period. For instance, in February 2021, Kuehne+Nagel International AG signed an agreement to acquire Apex International Corporation to expand its presence in Asia.

The private segment is the fastest growing. The increasing demand for faster deliveries of parcels, pharmaceuticals, perishables, valuable jewelry, and high-quality & delicate products across the world is accompanied by rising services from air freight carriers to offer the delivery of items that fall into this category, for instance, FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. is anticipated to bolster the growth of this segment over the forecast timeframe.


Regional Analysis of the Global Air Freight Market

Region-wise, the global air freight market share is analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA. 

Air Freight Market Regional Analysis

Regional Growth Insights Request Sample Pages

Asia-Pacific is the dominant and fastest-growing Region. It is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 6.5%. The Asia-Pacific region includes China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of Asia-Pacific. Increased growth of the e-commerce industry throughout Asia-Pacific further increases the development of the air freight market over the forecast period. China holds the majority of the Asia-Pacific air freight market share. Moreover, an increase in global demand for automotive and electronics parts is expected to boost the direction of air freight. Furthermore, the improving economy of Japan, development of infrastructure, and rise in trade facilitation through agreements, such as the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA), further support the growth of the air freight market.

North America is the second-largest region. It is estimated to reach an expected value of USD 115 billion by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 5.4%. It comprises the US, Canada, and Mexico. The North American market growth is attributed to the strong performance of the US economy and the enhancement of airport capacities. The usage of air freight for rapid export and import of time-critical goods is anticipated to propel the market growth in the region over the forecast period. North America is projected to witness an increase in demand for air freight, owing to the high demand for eCommerce in the domestic US market. Furthermore, the robust performance of North American and Asian trade routes has increased the demand for air freight.

Europe is the third-largest region. The air freight market in Europe includes Germany, the UK, Russia, France, and the rest of Europe. Increased trade activities among European Union (EU) and non-EU nations are responsible for expanding the market in Europe over the forecast period. The rise in investment toward developing modern airports with enhanced capacity for freight accommodation, such as automated airports, is expected to boost the growth of the air freight market over the forecast period.


Competitive Landscape

List of Top Global Air Freight Market Companies

  • Bolloré Logistics
  • Deutsche Post AG
  • DSV Panalpina
  • Expeditors International of Washington, Inc
  • FedEx
  • Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
  • Kuehne+Nagel International AG
  • Nippon Express
  • United Parcel Service, Inc


Recent Developments by Key Players

  • June 2022 - Nippon Express Co., Ltd. (Mitsuru Saito, President), a Group company of Nippon Express Holdings, Inc. (Mitsuru Saito, President), on May 30 launched a logistics service capable of handling goods requiring ultra-low temperatures (-20°C to -85°C) for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • May 2022 - Nippon Express (China) Co., Ltd., a Group company of Nippon Express Holdings, Inc. (Mitsuru Saito, President), has begun providing BCP-compatible solutions utilizing coastal shipping to/from the Greater Bay Area* in answer to a variety of restrictions being imposed on logistics within China due to increased COVID-19 infections.
  • April 2022 - Nippon Express Co., Ltd., a Group company of Nippon Express Holdings, Inc. (Mitsuru Saito, President), has obtained IATA CEIV Pharma(*) pharmaceutical transport quality certification effective April 5 for its temperature-controlled facility "NX-PHARMA Logistics Hub Kansai Airport" located inside the international cargo area of Kansai International Airport.


Global Air Freight Market: Segmentation

By Service

  • Freight
  • Express
  • Mail
  • Other Services

By Destination

  • Domestic
  • International

By End-Use

  • Private
  • Commercial

By Region

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia-Pacific
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