Top 5 freighter aircraft transactions of 2018

Russian freighters continue to fly after Bermuda revokes airworthiness

Russian Aircraft face registration crisis following Bermuda's airworthiness directive. (Photo/Volga Dnepr)

Season’s greetings from Cargo Facts! Many of our readers are spending today at home with family and friends, rather than at the office. But the holidays are also a good time to reflect over the year just past.

Today, enjoy a look back at some of the highlights of this year’s freighter aircraft transactions. With more redeliveries and orders likely on the way during 2019, we offer our best wishes for the season, and a prosperous new year.

And now, the top five freighter aircraft transactions of the year:

#5: Volga-Dnepr Group’s Farnborough order for five more 747-8F and LOI for twenty-nine 777Fs.

At the Farnborough International Airshow in July, Volga-Dnepr Group and its UK-based affiliate, CargoLogicHolding, signed a letter of intent (LOI) to purchase twenty-nine 777 freighters and an order for five 747-8 freighters from Boeing. While LOIs do not always translate into firm orders, aircraft deliveries have materialized from past LOIs between Volga-Dnepr and Boeing – even if not for the full number included in the LOI.

#4: Qatar Airways adds two 777Fs from Boeing.

Qatar Airways had a difficult FY2018, posting a US$69 million net loss that the carrier attributed to Qatar’s blockade by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. However, the carrier also significantly grew its revenue, cargo handle, and cargo capacity, and, in September, took delivery of another two 777 freighters (62771 and 62772). While Qatar Airways is growing its 777F fleet (which now numbers fifteen freighters), some of that capacity will be reduced early next year. Chief officer cargo Guillaume Halleux told Cargo Facts in May that the carrier will not renew leases for three A330-200Fs.

#3: GECAS takes the first freighter-converted 737-800F.

The April redelivery of the 737-800BCF (32740) to launch customer GECAS was a milestone for more than one reason. First, Boeing’s conversion program was the first to receive STC certification, and second, the redelivery to GECAS marked the first redelivered -800. Sweden-based West Atlantic is leasing the four freighters from GECAS. In July, West Atlantic’s cargo customer for the four converted freighters was revealed to be FedEx.

#2: DHL Express adds five ex-Etihad A330-200Fs.

When Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways parked all five of its A330-200 production freighters late in 2017 and early this year, the future of those relatively young freighters was unclear. However, in mid-August, it was revealed that EAT Leipzig took redelivery of the first aircraft (1524), decked out in a DHL Express livery and bearing a new German registration. EAT Leipzig has since taken the remaining ex-Etihad freighters and now operates them on behalf of DHL Express.

And our top transaction of 2018…

#1: Amazon takes delivery of its fortieth 767F.

With the delivery of its fortieth freighter last month, Amazon Air, the air carrier subsidiary of e-commerce giant Amazon, fulfilled its initial order to lease twenty 767Fs each from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group. That delivery – coupled with announcements that Amazon would expand air freight operations at Wilmington (ILN), Chicago’s Rockford Airport (RFD), and Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport (AFW) – sparked intense speculation around what Amazon’s next move in air freight operations might be. Last week, suspicions that Amazon would continue growing its fleet were confirmed with the announcement that Amazon Air would lease another ten 767 freighters from ATSG, with options for another seventeen beyond that.

Those interested in learning more about trends in freighter aircraft are invited to join us Cargo Facts EMEA, to be held 4-6 February at The Westin Grand Frankfurt.  To register or for more information, visit

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