Air China Cargo flies high

Air China Cargo's seventh 777F lands in Beijing.

Air China Cargo’s seventh 777F lands in Beijing.

Air China Cargo took delivery of its seventh 777F (44684) from Boeing, with the eighth, and final, 777F from the carrier’s 2013 order scheduled for delivery later this year.

While the ups and downs of air freight demand over the last few years have shaken the resolve of some carriers to continue to operate freighters, Beijing-based Air China Cargo, a joint venture of Air China and Cathay Pacific Airways, is the current poster child for successful combination-carrier cargo operation. It has reported double-digit year-over-year growth in cargo traffic for the last nine months. And not just barely double-digit: for the first half of 2015, Air China Cargo’s traffic was up 23.5% to 3.17 billion RTKs, cementing its position as the undisputed leader, in terms of cargo traffic growth, among the big Asian carriers.

When the eighth 777F is delivered later this year, Air China Cargo will complete a fleet modernization that began in 2013. At that time it operated eleven 747-400 freighters. Of these, just three were production -400Fs, while the other eight were a mix of six -400BCFs and two -400BDSFs. Today, the three 747-400Fs remain, while the converted units are gone – the -400BCFs taken back by Boeing as part of the 777F order, and the -400BDSFs returned to the lessor.

In addition to the seven (soon to be eight) 777Fs that have joined the fleet since 2013, Air China Cargo also had four of its passenger 757-200s converted to PCF freighter configuration by Precision Aircraft Solutions, and now operates them on an ACMI basis for China Postal Airlines.

To learn more about freighter fleet dynamics, click here.

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