Azerbaijan-based Silk Way Group signed a firm order with Boeing to purchase three 747-8 Freighters.
Rumors that Silk Way was negotiating such an order surfaced late last year, and have now been confirmed by a report late last week from the Azerbaijan State Information Agency showing photos of Aaur Akhundov, President of the Silk Way Group, and Marty Bentrott, Boeing’s Vice President – Sales, The Middle East, Central Asia and India, signing the firm order (see below).
If the earlier rumors that the first unit would be delivered this year are true, then the question arises: “Where is that first freighter coming from?” It seems unlikely that a 747-8F ordered at the beginning of March could be delivered by year-end if the process started from scratch. Not completely impossible, but unlikely. And this leads us to wonder whether one or more of the new Silk Way freighters will turn out to be aircraft originally ordered by another customer, as was the case, for example, with the 747-8F taken by AirBridgeCargo last October. (That freighter was originally built for Cathay, which will presumably take another unit at a later date to complete its order.)
The obvious candidates for Silk Way (and for AirBridge’s announced 747-8F acquisition scheduled this year) are the two 747-8Fs (60117, 60118) built last year with no announced customer, and parked ever since. As we have said before, Cargo Facts believes these, as well as two more 747-8Fs scheduled to enter production this year, were built in anticipation of an order from Asiana that failed to reach the final signing stage.
But whatever the source of the freighters, the Silk Way order, and the expected further orders from AirBridgeCargo, are good news for Boeing.
Silk Way West Airlines currently operates two 747-8Fs and two 747-400Fs. Until this year it also operated two 767-300Fs, but those have now been sold to FedEx. Sister carrier Silk Way Airlines operates several Il-76 and An-124 freighters. AirBridgeCargo, the scheduled-service subsidiary of Moscow-based Volga-Dnepr Group, operates six 747-8Fs, five 747-400ERFs, and three 747-400Fs, but has said that it would like to move to an all-747-8F fleet.