As we reported last week, 2015 was a strong year for new-build jet freighter orders. Today, we begin a two-part series in which we take stock of the overall state of the production freighter order books at Airbus and Boeing, and the state of the large widebody freighter fleet in general. We start with the “in with the new” part of the equation…
For the past few years there have been four production freighters available from Boeing, and one from Airbus. Boeing offers the 140-tonne-payload 747-8F, the 109-tonne 777F, and the 58-tonne 767-300F; while Airbus offers the A330-200F in two configurations, a 65-tonne “range mode” and a 70-tonne “payload mode.”
Orders for these four production freighters have been scarce in recent years through 2014, but deliveries continued in a steady stream, and the backlog had fallen by almost half, from 234 at the beginning of 2012, to just 121 at the beginning of 2015.
There was no slowdown in deliveries in 2015, the forty-five units delivered was very close to the average rate of the last four years. But for the first time in a long time, orders outpaced deliveries, as the two manufacturers booked 90 orders, almost three times the average of the last four years.
As a result, the backlog for the four freighter types currently in production now stands at 166. The charts below and at right provide a snapshot of the order and delivery situation for the Airbus A330-200F, and Boeing’s 747-8F, 777F, and 767-300F.
Tomorrow, in Part II, we will examine how these developments, and the modest growth in air freight demand seen in 2014 and 2015, have affected the pre-existing large widebody freighter fleet. Have retirements of 747-400 and MD-11 freighters continued? Or has cheap fuel and increasing demand brought previously parked units back into service?