After Paris, where are we?

With the Paris Air Show and its twenty-nine large widebody freighter orders and commitments behind us, now is a good time to take stock of the freighter order books at Airbus and Boeing, and the state of the large widebody freighter fleet in general. We start today with a look at the commercial jet freighters currently in production at Airbus and Boeing, and will continue later this week with an analysis of how the entry into service of these freighters, combined with a changing demand environment, has impacted the overall fleet.

For quite a few years now, there have been four freighters in production: Airbus offers the medium-widebody A330-200F, while Boeing offers the medium-widebody 767-300F and two large widebodies, the 777F and 747-8F.  Orders for production freighters have been scarce in recent years, but deliveries have continued in a steady stream. This has led to the combined Airbus/Boeing freighter backlog falling by almost half, from 234 at the beginning of 2012, to just 121 at the beginning of 2015.

There was no slowdown in deliveries in the first half of 2015, but orders, for the first time in a long time, outpaced deliveries, and the backlog for the four freighter types currently in production now stands at 144.

The charts  at right provide a snapshot of the order and delivery situation for the Airbus A330-200F, and Boeing’s 747-8F, 777F, and 767-300F.

A330-200F: After reporting net negative orders in 2014, Airbus booked a four-unit order from Turkish Airlines in March, bringing total A330-200F orders to date to forty-two. The manufacturer has so far delivered two units this year, one to Qatar Airways and one to Turkish, leaving it with a backlog of ten units.

747-8F: Boeing took orders for just two 747-8Fs in 2014, but has done considerably better this year, booking an order for three from Silk Way Airlines and for a single unit each from Atlas and an unidentified customer. These were followed by the blockbuster MoU for twenty 747-8Fs signed by Volga-Dnepr Group (for subsidicary carrier AirBridgeCargo Airlines) at the Paris Air Show. It is possible that Volga-Dnepr will ultimately take fewer than twenty, but in the chart we show the commitment as a twenty-unit order, bringing Boeing’s total order book for the type to ninety-three. In the first half of 2015 the manufactuer has delivered two 747-8Fs – one each to Cargolux and Korean Air. Its backlog now stands at thirty-five 747-8Fs.

777F: After taking fourteen 777F orders last year, Boeing continues to see success with its most popular freighter, booking orders for sixteen in the first half of 2015 – five from Korean Air, four from Qatar Airways, two from an unidentified customer (which Cargo Facts believes to be Etihad Airways), plus a five-unit commitment from EVA Air at the Paris Air Show. So far this year, Boeing has delivered eight 777Fs – three to China Southern Airlines, two to Korean Air, and one each to Air China Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, and Saudia – leaving it with a backlog of sixty-one.

767-300F: Boeing has taken no new orders for 767-300Fs this year, although FedEx did officially firm up one of its conditional orders. And FedEx has been the only delivery customer, taking nine 767-300Fs in the first half of 2015. Boeing’s backlog now stands at thirty-eight (all for FedEx), but this may change dramatically in the next day or two if FedEx and Boeing come to agreement on a massive order for fifty 767-300Fs and ten 777Fs. The manufacturer also has a substantial backlog of 767-based refueling tankers for the US Air Force.

To learn more about freighter fleet dynamics, click here.

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