Why, amid a shortage of widebody freighters, is the A330 given a wide berth?

By Ian Putzger

The much-discussed lack of maindeck capacity in air cargo has given a new lease of life to aging freighters that seemed headed for oblivion. However, not every viable cargo plane is being rushed back into action.

Amid a growing shortage of widebody freighters, one aircraft type seems to attract little interest: while operators and forwarders alike lament the lack of large freighters – especially B747s, and passenger 747-400s are a target for conversion into all-cargo configuration – nobody seems to be in a hurry to snap up A330-200Fs. Witness Etihad’s five-strong A330-200F fleet that has been parked since January; nobody has stepped forward so far with an offer the cash-strapped Middle East carrier can’t refuse. (more…)

Boeing gets a boost from air cargo boom as its freighter orderbook bulges

By Alexander Whiteman

Confidence is flying high in air cargo, with Boeing buoyed by the strength of its freighter orderbook for the next two decades. At July’s Farnborough Air Show, Boeing’s Vice-President of Marketing, Randy Tinseth, said: “Air cargo is back”.

Driving the sector’s strong growth is not only the e-commerce phenomenon but also high levels of consumer confidence and a balancing of global trade. “As well as the market returning, we have seen this boost in consumer confidence and, importantly, there is an improving balance in trade in and out of China,” said Mr. Tinseth. “I’d say the marketplace across the world is as strong as we have ever seen it, and I believe these trends will certainly continue.” (more…)

Designer freighters with no pilots may become a reality, says Boeing strategy chief

By Alexander Whiteman

Developments in technology and demand for freight capacity is enhancing the prospects of aircraft being designed solely to carry cargo, without a pilot at the controls. Boeing VP for Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development Mike Sinnett told attendees at the Farnborough International Airshow that cargo-specific aircraft designs could become a reality. “We’ve always started with development of a passenger aircraft and then strip it back to cater to cargo,” said Mr. Sinnett. “But looking at modern technology, you can now think about developing aircraft specifically for the cargo market.” He said purpose-cargo designs would allow for significant remodelling and there would no longer be a need to consider that at some point these aircraft would carry passengers. (more…)

Antonov reaps the benefits of U.S. routes as revenue and growth soar

By Alexander Whiteman

Antonov Airlines has recorded an 81 per cent upturn in revenue for 2017, with the carrier seemingly benefiting from its advantages over rival Volga-Dnepr. Citing a strategic partnership with Dreamlifts and the establishment of its UK headquarters, Antonov said it was the only AN-124 operator able to operate to and from the U.S. under open skies agreements. “Under Open Skies, between Ukraine and the U.S., Antonov is the only AN-124 operator granted blanket exemption for unlimited flights,” it said. (more…)

Air cargo market’s wings clipped in June as growth and rates slump

By Alex Lennane

June was the first month in two years with no significant growth in air freight, according to WorldACD. The figures are backed by Drewry’s air freight index, which showed rates fell 3 per cent in June, month on month – although they remained up 8 per cent year on year. WorldACD, however, notes that the year-on-year volume increase in June was just 0.4 per cent, although the first half overall showed growth of 3.7 per cent. And, it added, there is little-to-no consensus on second half prospects: will lack of capacity force rates up, or will trade policies have the opposite effect? (more…)