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The air freight industry, with 216 orders for new widebody freighters at the end of April, will see the bulk of the new capacity coming on line in the next year or two, according to the Shipping Gazette, citing Flight International.

The first of the latest wave of new freighters was the Boeing 777-200LRF, which entered service in February 2009. Thirty-nine of these are now flying, for eight airlines, and a further 44 are on order.

The 777F has a payload of 104 tonnes and a further range than its predecessors the 747-400Fs (110 tonne payload) and the Boeing MD-11F (90 tonne payload). It also is 20 to 25% more fuel efficient than the 747-400F, and 20% more efficient than the MD-11F.

MD-11 operators that have ordered the 777F include FedEx Express and Lufthansa. FedEx Express already has 11 777Fs in service, and 16 more are on confirmed order. Alain Chaille, its vice-president of operations for southern Europe and European hub manager, says the aircraft hugely boosts capacity on long-haul routes.

“Non-stop from Paris to Guangzhou, the MD-11F only carries about 65 tonnes, while the 777 can operate at full payload of 104 tonnes because of its range.” He said flying from Shanghai to Memphis, the 777F does not need to make a technical stop at Anchorage in Alaska.

Dileepa Wijesundera, senior vice-president of cargo at Qatar Airways, says that as well as flying its two 777Fs to Chicago and Hong Kong, the airline also flies this aircraft model on regional routes to Africa and the Middle East.

Emirates also cites the 777F’s ability to do both short- and long-haul routes, while Korean Air has also ordered both types, and Cathay Pacific is considering a similar mix. It has 10 747-8Fs on order, but director of cargo Nick Rhodes says it is also considering the 777Fs and Airbus A330Fs. He sees their role as serving 60-100 tonne regional markets, and as a pioneer for long-haul routes. Cathay is expecting to take delivery of six 747-8s this year and Mr Rhodes thinks it will be “a game changer,” referring to the extra payload and lower costs.

It is not yet clear which market will prove the most successful for the A330F, partly because only five have been delivered, and because 42 of the 57 orders to date have been placed by lessors. That said, demand for the aircraft among cargo operators is starting to grow.

One promising market has been Turkish and Middle Eastern carriers, which regard the range and payload of the A330F as ideal for markets in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Turkish Airlines has taken delivery of one of the five aircraft it has on order, and Turkish cargo airline MNG has ordered four. Etihad was the launch customer, after taking delivery of the first of two A330Fs at the Farnborough air show in July 2010.

Two Aircastle A330Fs are flying for Hainan Airlines-owned Hong Kong Airlines, and will be joined by another, and the five ordered by BOC Aviation are expected to be operated by another carrier in the group, Yangtze River Express. Initial deployment of the freighters is likely to be on longer or larger regional routes. Hong Kong Airlines is using them to fly on routes to Delhi and Singapore, and may extend the Delhi route to Brussels in future. – Source: Shipping Gazetta

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