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…)

Volga-Dnepr stuns the market with multi-billion dollar order for Boeing freighters

By Alex Lennane

Volga-Dnepr Group and UK sister company CargoLogicHoldings announced on July 17 an order for five B747-8Fs, as well as a letter of intent for a staggering 29 B777 freighters for its UK airline, Cargologicair. The companies also said they were looking at new production 767 freighters and converted 737-800Fs.

While there have been doubts whether Boeing would continue to make the 747, one industry source said the airplane manufacturer had made 20 kits for the 747-8F, of which UPS took 14. “To get five of the remainder is a realistic aim,” said the source. (more…)

Air freight rates continue to climb, with a strong peak season on the radar

By Alexander Whiteman

Air freight rates are continuing their climb, with the sector enjoying back-to-back monthly increases and year-on-year growth. In Drewry’s latest East-West Airfreight Price Index, rates were up 1.9 per cent in July, compared with June, and up around 1.5 per cent against July 2016. “In anticipation of a strong peak season, several forwarders have upped their capacity allocations out of Asia and have lined up charter capacity,” said Drewry. “We expect airfreight rates to further grow in August.”

(more…)

Airlines and shipping step up to maintain supply lines as Qatar battles blockade

By Alex Lennane

As Qatar battles major boycotts, Oman’s ports of Sohar and Salalah are set to handle its regional sea trade, while airlines, including Iran Air, are carrying large quantities of food imports. Since early June, when seven countries cut ties to Qatar, carriers have been working out new routings to avoid a direct link between the UAE’s ports and Qatar’s. With container hubs at Jebel Ali, Khar Fakkan, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi no longer able to ship directly to Qatar, Oman is set to become the key transit point.

(more…)