Today we begin a multi-part analysis of the narrowbody jet freighter fleet, both in its current state, and with some speculation about its future. We start with a snapshot of the fleet as it was in early October 2015. In the days to come we will examine the fleet in several ways – by type, by end user, and by region; and conclude with a close look at the P-to-F conversion scene.
When we looked at the narrowbody jet freighter fleet at this time last year, the first thing that caught our attention was the number of 757-200s flying in freighter configuration. A little checking, and we confirmed that, with 242 units in operation, the 757-200F was the most popular freighter in the world, easily surpassing the 191 747-400Fs.
This year, the gap has increased. Carriers have responded to increasing demand for international air freight by bringing a few 747 freighters out of the desert, raising the total in service to 197, but express demand has been rising even faster, and at the end of September 2015, Cargo Facts counts 256 757-200Fs in service, a net gain of fourteen over last year. Will the 757-200F will one day overtake the 727-200F as the most popular freighter ever? Possibly not, but it will be close.
There are still more widebody freighters in operation than narrowbody, but this gap has begun to shrink, and narrowbodies now make up about 38% of the total commercial jet freighter fleet. We say “about 38%” because there is more than one way to count the fleet. For purposes of this analysis, we have chosen not to include the few remaining 707Fs and DC-8Fs, nor do we include aircraft in combi configuration. We do include some aircraft in Quick Change configuration, but only if we believe them to be operated full time as freighters.
Using these guidelines, we find that there are now 601 narrowbody freighters, of ten types, in commercial operation by 109 carriers, up from 553 at this time last year. Fifty-four of these carriers operate just one or two freighters, and the chart above shows only those carriers operating three or more. (Note that this year we include Tu-204Cs for the first time, and have adjusted previous year data accordingly.)
We will continue tomorrow, with a closer look at the fleet on a type-by-type basis.
Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.
Get more air cargo insights at the 2015 Cargo Facts Symposium, Oct. 26-28 in Miami. Click here for details.