Economic growth and globalization drive air cargo demand. Today air cargo retains its vital role in economic expansion, with emphasis on developing markets. As a trade facilitator, air cargo increases the global reach of businesses, enabling them to get products to distant markets in a more cost-effective and quicker way.
The main categories of air cargo include dangerous goods, live animals, and humanitarian aid, as well as perishable, temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and ornamental plants.
An illustrative example of the importance of air cargo in some developed economies is Colombia. In 2017, air freight accounted for approximately 12 per cent of Colombian international trade by value, while by tonnage it only accounted for 0.48 per cent.
In a developed economy, the values in the same measures can be even more striking. For example, in the United Kingdom, air freight accounted for approximately 47.7 per cent of 2017 international trade value. Yet, in terms of weight it only accounted for 0.7 per cent of the total tonnage.
These cases exemplify the nature of the goods that are moved by the air transport. These goods are inherently high-value, process critical, business-to-business
and pre-consumer in the supply chain.
ICAO is committed to air cargo and urges Member States to
give due regard to the distinct features of air cargo services when exchanging market
access rights in the framework of air service agreements and grant appropriate
rights and operational flexibility so as to promote the development of these
services. (A39, Annex A, par.7).