UPS has now exercised their options and will have 32 747-8F in service by 2022.   “Our intra-U.S. next-day and deferred air shipments are expanding to record levels, and UPS’s International segment has produced four consecutive quarters of double-digit export shipment growth,” said David Abney, UPS chairman, and CEO. “To support this strong customer demand, we continue to invest in additional air capacity, providing the critical link our customers need to markets around the world.”

The 747-8F carries 46 containers, 34 on its main deck and 12 in its lower compartments.  Its cargo capacity is 140 tonnes, or approximately 30,000 packages and a range of 4,200 nautical miles.   The deal with Boeing included four 767F as well.

The backdrop to this is other cargo news.  IATA announced that it showed a 9% rise in airfreight in 2017.  This, IATA noted, was more than double the 3.6% annual growth recorded in 2016.

Air cargo had its strongest performance since the rebound from the financial crisis in 2010. Demand grew by 9.0%. That outpaced the industry-wide growth in both cargo capacity and in passenger demand. We saw improvements in load factors, yields, and revenues. Air cargo is still a very tough and competitive business, but the developments in 2017 were the most positive that we have seen in a very long time,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The outlook for air freight in 2018 is optimistic. Consumer confidence is buoyant. And we see growing strength in international e-commerce and the transport of time- and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals. Overall the pace of growth is expected to slow from the exceptional 9.0% of this year. But we still expect a very healthy 4.5% expansion of demand in 2018. Challenges remain, including the need for industry-wide evolution to more efficient processes. That will help improve customer satisfaction and capture market share as the expectations of shippers and consumers grow ever more demanding,” said de Juniac.

Looking at the chart for e-commerce growth, we can see why Amazon’s Prime Air is on a growth spurt.  Now we see UPS also making a growth move since these new aircraft are not replacing anything the airline has in service.   Perhaps Boeing is going to see even more interest in the 747-8F.

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