This Is the Plane Era

Once upon a time planes were only a minor part of world transportation. No longer:

A large and growing share of international trade is carried on airplanes. Air cargo is many times more expensive than maritime transport but arrives in destination markets much faster. … We estimate that each day in transit is equivalent to [a tax] of 0.6 to 2.3 percent and that the most time-sensitive trade flows are those involving parts and components trade. …

Ocean-borne cargo leaving European ports takes an average of 20 days to reach US ports and 30 days to reach Japan. Air borne cargo requires only a day or less to most destinations. … In 2005, goods imported into the US faced per kilogram charges for air freight that were, on average, 6.5 times higher than ocean freight charges. … Excluding Canada and Mexico, 36 percent of US imports by value and 58 percent of US exports by value were airborne in 2000. … In 2004, air cargo as a share of export value was 29 percent for the UK, 42 percent for Ireland, and 51 percent for Singapore; 22 percent of Argentine and 32 percent of Brazilian imports were airborne. … From 1965-2004, worldwide use of air cargo grew 2.6 times faster than use of ocean cargo. (more)

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  • Simone Simonini

    How long until air freight replaces rail freight and trucking?

  • http://www.gwern.net gwern

    We estimate that each day in transit is equivalent to [a tax] of 0.6 to 2.3 percent and that the most time-sensitive trade flows are those involving parts and components trade.

    Wow. I wouldn’t’ve guessed that much, but I guess that explains why air transport is used even at its price.

  • Douglas Knight

    Pretty weird to add a coauthor after the paper has been around for more than a decade and accumulated hundreds of citations.

    • Jayson Virissimo

      Pretty weird to add a coauthor after the paper has been around for more than a decade and accumulated hundreds of citations.

      If you procrastinate that long trying to polish it up, then it would seem wise to simple outsource the final touches or else it may never get finished.

  • Captain Oblivious

    Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1835:

    For I dipt into the future far as human eye could see,
    Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
    Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
    Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;

    He was pretty insightful; the only part he missed is that the pilots are dropping down with cheap bales!

  • Abelard Lindsey

    Depending on the value of what you are shipping, the time value of sending it by air can be cheaper than the cost of air cargo. I’m not surprised that more than half of U.S. exports went out by air. Mostly what we export is precision manufacturing technology and scientific instruments.

    Its bulk cargo (food stuffs ,ore, etc.) as well as heavy manufactured goods such as cars that are transported by sea. Everything else goes by air.

  • Richard Hollerith

    Analogy with other OB posts with “era” in the title led me to expect another part to the post in which it is asserted that our civilization’s reliance on planes is unsustainable 🙂

  • http://www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com Andreas Moser

    But ships are so much more romantic.