Production freighter orders in 2018 part II: 777F leads the pack

On Monday, we began this two-part analysis of the production jet freighter market in 2018 with an overview of orders and deliveries, our thoughts on why 2018 was such a big year for orders, and how that might continue – or not – during 2019. Click here to read part I. Today, we conclude it with a close-up look at each of the four widebody types currently on offer,  the carriers that ordered or took delivery of them, and the current state of the manufacturers’ backlogs for each type.

A330-200F: Airbus received its last order for its only production freighter in 2015, since which time the carrier has seen orders diminish, to the tune of five cancellations. In fact, there remain only three outstanding orders for the A330-200F, and all three are for Turkey-based MNG Airlines, which took delivery of its first of four ordered in 2013 and has not taken another since. To date, Airbus has delivered thirty-eight of the freighters. With no indication of future orders on the horizon, the manufacturer does not have a featured chart in the 2018 edition of Cargo Facts’ order and delivery analysis.

747-8F: The future of Boeing’s largest freighter has been in doubt of late, with two cancellations during 2017 and a number of memorandums of understanding (most notably, a 2015 MoU with Volga-Dnepr Group) that failed to realize the full number of firm orders. However, early in 2018, Atlanta-based UPS announced that it would firm up options for fourteen 747-8Fs. Later in the year, Volga-Dnepr Group and its UK-based affiliate CargoLogicHolding agreed to order five 747-8Fs, but these are not yet reflected in Boeing’s order backlog, which as of November 2018, shows just 1 unit on order with the Group.

All six of the 747-8Fs delivered during 2018 went to UPS. As can be seen in the accompanying chart, Boeing’s order backlog for 747-8Fs stands at twenty-five aircraft. Whether the new orders will be enough to keep the production line going beyond the near-term remains to be seen. Given the greater enthusiasm from a variety of carriers for the smaller widebody 777 freighter, the future of Boeing’s nose-loader is still in question.

777F: After a slow 2016 and 2017 for 777F orders, 2018 saw a wave of new orders, with the largest coming from an unexpected source – DHL Express, which at the Farnborough International Airshow in July, announced an order for fourteen 777Fs, with an option to take up to seven additional 777Fs. In a break from how the express company traditionally operates, all the 777Fs will be fully-owned by DHL, rather than leased. However, the order, while significant, will not necessarily lead to a dramatic expansion of DHL Express’ air freight capacity, as the company said the 777Fs will serve as gradual replacements of the integrator’s older intercontinental fleet. Delivery of the first four aircraft in the order is expected this year.

Other orders during 2018 came from:

  • FedEx, which placed an order for twelve of the type in June (or seven new orders, plus five the Memphis-based carrier said it had already ordered but were not reflected in Boeing’s order book);
  • Turkish Cargo, which ordered three 777Fs early in the year, another three in November, and is suspected by Cargo Facts to be the “unidentified customer” that placed an order for three in March;
  • Doha-based Qatar Airways, which in April signed an LOI to acquire five 777Fs, and is replacing at least three of its A330Fs with the 777Fs;
  • Lufthansa Cargo, which placed an order for two 777Fs in May;
  • ANA Holdings, which ordered two 777Fs from Boeing as part of its five-year business plan. The two 777Fs will be the first in ANA’s fleet, and are expected to operate in trans-Pacific service; and
  • Boeing Capital Corp, which in August signed a deal to lease a 777F to Leipzig-based AeroLogic, a 50/50 joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo.

Also during 2018, fourteen of the 777Fs were delivered to carriers. Three each went to FedEx, EVA Air, and Turkish Cargo, which received its first 777F in December 2017. Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways each took delivery of two 777Fs, and Etihad Airways took delivery of one 777F late in the year, leaving Boeing’s order backlog at fifty-five 777Fs. Two of those in the backlog are currently scheduled for delivery to LATAM Airlines in 2024, according to LATAM’s most recent earnings statement. However, the carrier offloaded the two 777Fs it had operated to Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings earlier this year, so it remains to be seen whether the Chile-based carrier will follow through with the deliveries, or potentially convert the orders from freighter to passenger aircraft.

767-300F: At a total of seventeen freighters, more 767-300 production freighters were delivered during 2018 than any other production freighter. The airframe type is favored by integrators (and by Amazon Air, which has so far opted only for converted freighters), and all seventeen of the deliveries last year were to FedEx, which placed the previously mentioned order for fifty of the freighters in 2015 under its fleet renewal strategy.

Most of the orders for 767-300Fs during 2018 also came from FedEx, which ordered twelve of the airframe type, while UPS placed orders for an additional nine. Boeing’s order backlog for the type now stands at sixty-three units.

Those interested in learning more about trends in freighter aircraft operations 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 www.cargofactsemea.com.

  Like This Post