Disappearing production freighter orders — Part II

Yesterday, we began this two-part analysis of the production jet freighter market in 2017 with an overview of orders and deliveries, our thoughts on why orders have all but disappeared, and when they might return. Today we conclude it with a close-up look at each of the four types currently on offer,  the carriers that ordered or took delivery of them, and the current state of the manufacturers’ backlogs for each type.

747-8F: After several years of drought, rain began falling on Boeing’s largest freighter in 2015 and 2016, with orders from AirBridgeCargo Airlines (twenty, through an MoU from parent Volga-Dnepr Group), UPS (fourteen), Silk Way West Airlines (three), and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (one), while Japan-based Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) cancelled orders for four. This left Boeing a net of thirty-four orders over the two years for a freighter program some observers had believed to be effectively dead.

But the order stream dried up in 2017, during which Boeing booked just three orders – all from “Unidentified Customer” – and this was balanced by the cancellation of NCA’s two remaining orders. (Two of the ordered freighters have already been delivered to Qatar Airways, and Cargo Facts would not be surprised to see the third go to Doha as well.)

Boeing handed over eight 747-8Fs to four customers in 2017 – three to UPS, two each to AirBridge and Qatar, and one to Silk Way West. Assuming AirBridge takes the remaining eleven from the MoU, this leaves Boeing with a backlog of twenty-four.

777F: The resurgence in 777F orders that began in 2014 and continued in 2015 came to a screeching halt in 2016, during which Boeing not only booked no new 777F orders, but in fact suffered a cancellation of four orders by Guggenheim Aviation Partners (now renamed Altavair). That order drought eased somewhat in 2017, with Turkish Airlines swapping two existing 777-300ER orders for freighter orders, and Ethiopian Airlines placing an order for four. And then, on the last working day of the year, Turkish ordered three more. So, a total of nine orders in 2017.

Deliveries, on the other hand, continued apace, with Boeing handing off eleven 777Fs during the year – five to FedEx, two each to Turkish and Qatar, and one each to EVA and Korean. To date, Boeing has taken orders for 167 777Fs and delivered 140, leaving it with a backlog of twenty-seven.

767-300F: FedEx was the only customer for Boeing’s 767-300F in 2016, with an order for six more units (bringing its total 767-300F orders to 112). The Memphis-based integrator was also Boeing’s only 767-300F delivery customer in that year, taking a total of twelve units. In 2017, the deliveries to FedEx continued, with Boeing handing over ten. But with no new orders, Boeing’s 767-300F order book is unchanged at 196, leaving the manufacturer with forty-eight units in its backlog (all for FedEx).

A330-200F: Airbus last booked an order for its only production freighter in 2015, and, in fact, has had a net of minus four orders in the last six years. In 2017 the manufacturer delivered two units – one each to Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways. To date, Airbus has booked a total of forty-two orders for the A330-200F, and delivered thirty-eight, leaving it with a backlog of just four units – of which three are for Turkey-based MNG Airlines, which took delivery of the first of its four orders in 2013, and has not taken another since.

Those interested in learning more about the future of the production freighter market should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, 23-25 April at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong. This year’s event will feature the launch of our parent Air Cargo Management Group’s Twenty-Year Freighter Forecast, followed by a session devoted exclusively to the widebody freighter market. To view this year’s exciting agenda, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.


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