Airbus made the announcement in its mid-year results, declaring it hoped to launch a freighter version of the A350 in 2025, without a firm launch customer.
With the aircraft likely to have a slightly lower capacity than B777s, Airbus stressed the aircraft's the aircraft's efficiency and its ability to meet stricter UN emissions regulations coming into force in 2028.
Airbus believes that these new regulations will result in a wave of replacements as existing widebody freighters are made obsolete.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the aircraft would have 20 per cent less fuel burn than existing twin-jet freighters, 30 per cent less than a three jet aircraft and 40 per cent less than a four engine model.
The aircraft is expected to offer capacity of more than 90 tonnes, with some reports suggesting it could be able to carry more than 110 tonnes.
Also Boeing has revealed plans for the launch of a new widebody freighter, according to London's FlightGlobal.
Boeing CEO David Calhoun views a freighter version of the 777X as a logical next aircraft programme, noting Boeing will need a cargo jet that complies with looming aircraft emission standards.
'We need to develop a new ICAO-compliant freighter,' Mr Calhoun said. 'I circle the 777X as the logical place for that, and the smart place to do that.'
Both Airbus and Boeing have been urged to develop a new generation of freighters by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.