Recent figures show that China is the fastest growing aviation market in the world. Indeed, between 204 and 2005 China’s air freight volume increased by 25% and 20% respectively. Furthermore, passenger traffic also grew considerably in this period.

However, shortage of available freighters is threatening to restrict the growth of China’s air freight industry.

According to the vice President of China’s largest air freight forwarding company,

“We want to expand as fast as possible … But it is very difficult to find aircraft at the moment.”

One way around the problem of freighter shortages is to use other aircraft, like the B777 which are new freighters with very good fuel efficiency. However, these types of freight planes are unlikely to be available for the next couple of years.

Other options that some of China’s large freight forwarding companies are looking into is to expand their road feeder services. This would enable them to create a network across the country which could be integrated with their air freight services.

Furthermore, opportunities will be created by the expansion of Beijing Capital International airport along with the Simplified Customs Clearance Procedure. These two factors will combine to accelerate the growth of the air freight business in China.

Although the growth rate of China’s air freight sector is expected to slow down this in 2006, it will not stop completely. According to experts in the freight industry, Chinese air freight cargo volumes are predicted to increase by 10% in 2006. If this does happen then China’s air freight volume will be 3.36 million tons. This means that it will still be a dominant player in the global air freight market.

On a similar note, air passenger numbers are also likely to grow. Industry insiders estimate that air passenger numbers will rise by 15%. If this increase takes place then around 159 million people will travel by aeroplane out of China this year.