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Air cargo traffic - worldwide volume 2004-2021

Following somewhat slow growth in the early 2010’s, the global volume of air freight increased rapidly in recent years with freight volumes reaching 54.2 million metric tons in 2020.

The global air freight market

The air cargo market refers to the transportation of goods via air, either by commercial airlines or specialized freight companies. The largest flows of air cargo are in and between East Asia and the United States, with airports in these regions dominating the top ten in terms of freight volume.

Drivers of growth

Two factors have strongly influenced the growth of the air freight market. The first is the global increase of e-commerce. This has connected retailers and consumers in different geographic locations across both domestic and international markets, driving up the demand for delivery services in the process. Second is the cost of airline fuel. The period circa 2012 where airline fuel prices reached historic highs coincides with slow growth in air freight volumes, while the increasing growth in freight volume seen from around 2016 coincides with a sharp fall in the cost of airline fuel.

Worldwide air freight traffic from 2004 to 2021

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Release date

November 2020



Survey time period

2004 to 2020

Supplementary notes

* This figure was taken from a previous edition which was released prior to the coronavirus outbreak and can be accessed here.
** Forecast
*** Estimate
Figures prior to 2015 were taken from previous reports.

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Statistics on "Air transportation worldwide"

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