Fleet changes at cathay pacific cargo: Is a 777F order in the cards?

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Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, now the world’s biggest international cargo carrier, is in the early stage of a major change in the makeup of its freighter fleet. At the beginning of this year, the carrier operated twenty-five 747-400 freighters, in a mix of -400Fs/ERFs/BCFs, and was known to have ten 747-8Fs on order. Just six months later the changes are significant:

As part of its all-cargo joint venture agreement with AIR CHINA, Cathay will transfer four of its 747-400BCFs to Air China Cargo (one has already been transferred). This will bring Air China Cargo’s 747 freighter fleet to twelve units – three -400Fs, seven -400BCFs, and two -400BDSFs.

Air Hong Kong, Cathay’s 60/40 joint venture with DHL, has agreed to dry lease three 747-400BCFs from Cathay, and is negotiating for a fourth. One has been transferred already, with two more scheduled to be moved by the end of the year. Following the arrival of the 747 freighters, AHK’s fleet will include eight A300-600Fs and either three or four 747-400BCFs. It also currently leases a 727-200F from Malaysia-based Transmile Air Services.

As mentioned above, Cathay has ten 747-8Fs on firm order with Boeing, of which six are scheduled for delivery this year and the balance in 2012.

Cathay is also shopping for smaller freighters, to serve fast-growing markets like India. The carrier had originally said it was considering either 777Fs or A330-200Fs, with an order for up to fifteen units expected within the next few weeks, but has now confirmed that it may also order more 747-8Fs in addition to the ten it already has on order. As we were going to press, several sources indicated that Cathay had opted for fourteen freighters, mostly 777Fs, but including some 747-8Fs, with the order to be announced at the Paris Air Show.

Following these changes, Cathay will have a 27-unit freighter fleet at the end of next year, made up of seventeen 747-400Fs/ERFs/BCFs and ten 747-8Fs. And if it follows through on the additional order, ten or twelve 777Fs and a few more 747-8Fs will be added in the following years.

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