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Boeing 747: The Phoenix still rises with e-commerce swelling demand

AT 50, the Boeing 747 is no spring chicken but the jetliner - the former darling of commercial passenger air travel - has got the spring back in its step thanks to the booming e-commerce market that is driving demand for capacity like it is going out of fashion

Boeing 747: The Phoenix still rises with e-commerce swelling demand

AT 50, the Boeing 747 is no spring chicken but the jetliner - the former darling of commercial passenger air travel - has got the spring back in its step thanks to the booming e-commerce market that is driving demand for capacity like it is going out of fashion

13 February 2019 - 19:00

AT 50, the Boeing 747 is no spring chicken but the jetliner - the former darling of commercial passenger air travel - has got the spring back in its step thanks to the booming e-commerce market that is driving demand for capacity like it is going out of fashion.

The aircraft's second lease of life may not be that of a former jet setter but it does have guaranteed employment prospects given that it has become the new cargo mule through passenger-to-freighter conversion programmes, such as for package delivery front runner United Parcel Service.



'It's an efficiency machine for us,' said UPS spokesman Jim Mayer.



UPS ordered 14 more B747-8 freighters in 2018, giving it more bang for its buck than its European rival, the Airbus A380, particularly as Airbus is reported to be looking 'extremely seriously' at closing its A380 factories sooner than expected, Reuters reported in January, after Dubai's Emirates indicated it might switch its A380 orders to the smaller A350.



Unlike the B747, Europe's superjumbo does not have a freighter version to help absorb slack demand. Boeing said in 2016 it could end its production amid falling orders and pricing pressure. Major US carriers like United Continental Holdings and Delta Air Lines have already bid the B747 farewell.



By keeping the B747 alive, Boeing avoids charges and layoffs for suspending production at the mammoth wide-body plant outside Seattle.



It also shields newer programmes like the B787 Dreamliner and the latest model of B777, which would have to bear a larger share of the plant's huge overhead if the B747 line went dark.


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