As an important facilitator of international trade, aviation promotes global economic growth and development. Forecasts suggest that the world’s economies will become even more dependent on international trade over the next decade. World trade is expected to nearly double, rising at more than twice the rate of global GDP growth, with China, India and other emerging markets leading the way.

Compared to other modes of transport, air freight is fast and reliable over great distances. However, these benefits come at a cost. Consequently, air freight is mostly used to deliver goods that are light, compact, perishable and have a high unit value. This fact is made most apparent when you consider that over a third of all international trade is sent by air when counted by value of goods sent, but when you look at the volume of trade, air cargo makes up only 0.5%. In 2017, it is estimated $6.0 trillion in cargo value was sent by air.

Part of everyday manufacturing

Today, air transport is a vital component of many industries’ global supply chains, used primarily for the transfer of time-sensitive goods. Rapid delivery is particularly important to businesses whose customers are running streamlined production processes or who need urgent delivery of spare parts for machinery and equipment. High-value, lightweight and sensitive electrical components are transported by air from manufacturing facilities all over the world to be assembled.

Supporting sustainable development

Exporters of perishable products such as food and flowers (many of whom are located in developing countries) can only reach export markets by air, providing steady employment and economic growth to regions that benefit from such trade. 

The pharmaceutical industry also relies on air transport for delivery of time-sensitive medical supplies, particularly vaccines.