The distribution of widebody freighters — Part II

747 freighters continue to play a major role in the air freight industry. As they age, what will replace them?

Yesterday we began an analysis of the way the 1,035 widebody freighters in service as of 31 January are operated and how the different types of widebody freighters are distributed within the fleet by type. You can read Part I here, and today we conclude with an examination of the distribution by manufacturer, by operator type, and by geographical region.

In terms of the composition of the fleet today, the continuing strong demand for the 767-300F pushed Boeing’s share of the medium widebody fleet to 52.3% last year, and that has increased to 56.1% this year. With outstanding orders for sixty-three 767-300Fs, as opposed to just four A330-200Fs, and the boom in 767-300BCF/BDSF conversions, Boeing’s share will grow substantially over the next few years. There will come a day when growing demand for A330-300P2F conversions will slow this trend, but that day is still some way off.

Boeing continues to have the large-capacity freighter segment to itself. The in-service numbers reflect a growing quantity of 777 and 747-8 freighters, but, as noted in Part I of this analysis, the number of 747 Classic, MD-11 and MD/DC-10-30 freighters in service declined. Some of the MD-11Fs and 747-400F/ERFs may be re-activated, but the number will not be large.

The outstanding orders in the large capacity segment include twenty-five 747 8Fs (down from thirty-two last year) and thirty 777Fs (down from thirty-seven). The total of fifty-five is down fourteen from last year, a significant decline.

The table at right shows the distribution of widebody freighters by category of airline and by the region in which airlines are domiciled. The categories of airline used in this analysis are combination carriers (that is, carriers such as Lufthansa, Cathay, etc., that operate both passenger and freighter aircraft); express carriers (DHL, FedEx, etc.); scheduled-service all-cargo carriers (e.g. Cargolux and AirBridgeCargo Airlines); and specialist all-cargo carriers (e.g. Atlas Air and Air Atlanta Icelandic). Note that members of the specialist group operate most of their freighters on an ACMI or CMI basis in support of combination and express carriers.

Several interesting factors become apparent when examining how widebody freighters are used:

Those interested in learning more about the current makeup and future growth of the widebody freighter fleet should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, April 25-26, where the subject will be explored from many viewpoints. For more information, or to register, go to


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