Cargolux exams closely 777-300ER freighter conversion
LUXEMBOURG-HEADQUARTERED Cargolux is examining the Boeing 777-300ER freighter conversion programme as a candidate to meet its future fleet requirements, according to the airline's chief executive Richard Forson
17 November 2020 - 19:00
Speaking at a recent UK Aviation Club event, Mr Forson pointed out that the company was looking to the big manufactures for freighter versions of newer-generation widebodies, or seek the conversion of older-generation passenger aircraft.
'The specific one we are looking very closely at is the conversion of the 777-300ER into a freighter, in which Gecas, together with IAI, are doing a programme,' he said.
'I'm keeping an eye on that and wondering if the whole freighter concept is now going full circle, where initially it started off as conversion of passenger aircraft and then it went into production freighters, and maybe are we getting back to a situation now where manufacturers are going to say the risk is too high,' Mr Forson explained.
Neither Airbus or Boeing have committed to building freighter versions of two potentially viable aircraft types.
He doubts that the current orderbook for passenger 777X aircraft will be enough to convince Boeing's board to launch a freighter variant of the widebody - particularly in light of reduced near-term demand as a result of the pandemic. 'The delivery of hundreds of A350s could potentially justify the development of a freighter' by Airbus, Mr Forson said.
Therefore, while Cargolux maintains 'continuous dialogue' with the big manufacturers, the eventual fleet investment might not necessarily involve new-build jets, reports London's Air Cargo News.
'There's a huge feedstock of 777-300ERs in the market that will also be looking for a home one day,' Mr Forson stated.
For now, 'what we've done as an airline is taken the necessary steps to ensure the longevity of our 747 fleet as long as possible. Besides the Antonov [An-124], which is a niche aircraft, there is not a comparable aircraft with the capabilities of the 747, especially in terms of the movement of outsize shipments.'
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