A late-year order for four Airbus A350Fs on December 19 confirms that there has been plenty of interest in factory-built full freighters last year. Especially if you consider that Airbus and Boeing reaped orders for a combined 102 freighters in 2022. And that in a market that has all signs of cooling down after overheating during the Covid crisis in 2021 and 2022. Airbus and Boeing sell 102 new full freighters.
The order reviews released on Tuesday confirm that last year was another positive year for full freighters. Boeing sold most of them: 78 compared to 84 in 2021. This isn’t surprising, given the dominance that the US airframer has had in the segment for years with the 747-8F, 767, and 777F.
The 777F received 35 orders last year: six for DHL, five for Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines, four for China Airlines, two each Air Canada, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, FedEx, Western Global, and two undisclosed customers. EVA Air ordered one 777F. The 35 aircraft compared to 42 in the previous year.
The 767-300F sold ten compared to nineteen in 2021. Eight aircraft are for UPS and two for FedEx. It is too early to tell if we are starting to see the end of the sales success of this aircraft, but with the 2028 deadline coming closer for new emission regulations, there are just a few more years left in the trusted 767 freighter. Boeing hasn’t still publicly made up its mind if it will re-engine the 767F or replace it with a 787F that fits the emission standards.
With the last 747-8F to be delivered to Atlas Air in the coming weeks, the -8F signature is handed over to the 777X family. Launched in January last year by Qatar Airways, the new freighter racked up 33 sales in 2022. Qatar’s order was for fourteen, plus twenty conversions from previous 777X orders. Cargolux placed an order for ten -8Fs, Lufthansa for seven, and Silk Way West for two. Including the converted orders from Qatar Airways, there are now 53 firm sales in the book. Yet to be confirmed is the MoU for five from Ethiopian. It makes Boeing buoyant about future sales prospects of the new freighter.
Silk Way West is the only airline so far to have ordered both the Airbus A350F and Boeing 777-8F. (Airbus)
Likewise, Airbus is in a positive mood about the future of the A350F, which was launched during the 2021 Dubai Airshow with an order for seven from Air Lease Corporation. CMA CGM followed soon with four, but in 2022 Airbus won orders for another 24 aircraft. Singapore Airlines confirmed its order for seven in February, followed in April by Air France with four. In June, Etihad Airways ordered seven and Silk Way West two A350Fs. The four aircraft for an undisclosed customer in December completed the list for 2022.
During the orders and deliveries media call on Tuesday, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer was most happy about how the A350F has been doing so far: “We are happy to be back in the freighter market. We are pleased with the market resonance so far, 24 orders by five customers in 2022. I think that is an inspiring result in the first year since we marketed this new product. We have got several other campaigns running and with the current freighter market situation and an increase for mid and large-sized air freight, we see significant opportunities for the all-new A350.”
Yet, the overall trend in the cargo market is that of a slowing down. IATA reported this week that global demand in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTK) dropped by 13.7 percent in November compared to the same month in 2021. Capacity in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTK) was down by 1.9 percent on November 2021, the second year-on-year contraction since October.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.