Korean Air (KAL) placed a firm order with Boeing for five 777Fs.
The order continues Korean’s fleet modernization that began several years ago with orders for a total of seven 747-8Fs and five 777Fs. Of these earlier orders, Korean has taken delivery of five of the 747-8Fs and four of the 777Fs. These nine additions have been matched almost one-for-one with the retirement of eight freighter-converted 747-400BCFs, with the net effect that KAL’s freighter fleet is almost the same size – 26 aircraft now, up from 25 – as it was when the modernization began.
Korean’s fleet now includes five 747-8Fs, four 777Fs, eight 747-400Fs and nine 747-400BCFs, and Cargo Facts expects that as the remaining new freighters – two 747-8Fs and six 777Fs – on order are delivered, the carrier will continue its retirement of the -400BCFs.
But “retirement” is an interesting word. If you look at the eight 747-400BCFs that left Korean’s fleet beginning in 2012, all were re-registered to Boeing. Of these, two are currently leased to Cargolux, but the other six are parked in the desert, still on Boeing’s certificate. Add in the eleven 747-400BCFs Boeing agreed to purchase from Cathay and Air China Cargo as part of the deal which saw those two carriers placing a large new freighter order in 2013 and the total rises to 19.
Cargo Facts does not know if a repurchase of 747-400BCFs is part of the just-announced Korean order for five 777Fs, but if it is, then Boeing will soon own half of the entire -400BCF fleet.