Freighters comprise only 8 percent of the total commercial jet fleet, yet they carry over 50 percent of all air cargo traffic. Their essential role in the global supply chain is underpinned by a number of factors:
∙ Dedicated freighter services offer control over timing and routing that is unmatched by lower-hold capacity
∙ Reliability of air cargo services is measured in hours and minutes, not days, as it is in other modes of freight transport
∙ Freighters offer speed to market for high-value, time-sensitive products such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, fashion goods, and perishable commodities.
∙ Certain types of cargo cannot be carried in the lower holds of passenger flights, including outsize items, hazardous materials, and cold chain goods
∙ Mistakes and disruptions occur in the supply chain, creating urgent needs for intermediate goods. Although inexpensive telecommunications and sophisticated software mitigated these risks in recent years, the need for expedited shipments has not been eliminated.
∙ Major centers of cargo traffic may be located in places without much international passenger demand or service – for such locations, freighters are the most efficient form of cargo transport
Ninety percent of all air cargo revenues are earned by airlines that operate freighters. Without freighters in the network, an airline’s cargo operations cannot compete effectively against the alternatives.
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