Boeing's 737-800BCF at Paris Air Show 2019
Boeing's 737-800BCF at Paris Air Show 2019

The Paris Air Show is on – and freighter orders are starting to pick up.

This morning, Qatar Airways Cargo said it would increase its Boeing 777 freighter fleet by five, propelling it to the position of top cargo carrier. 

“It will increase our 777 freighter fleet by a full 25%… This is an order that will propel our growth and, I firmly believe, confirm us as the leading cargo operator in the world,” said Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.  

Let’s hope Mr Al Baker’s management skills are better than his maths – according to the carrier, it currently operates 23 freighters16 777Fs; two 747-8Fs and five A330Fs – so it would be a rise of 31% in 777F capacity, (not the 20% originally cited, later updated to 25%). 

He also unveiled three new freighter routes for the carrier; Hanoi to Dallas; Chicago to Singapore; and Singapore-Los Angeles-Mexico City.

Next, express expert ASL Aviation Holdings announced an MoU for 20 737-800 BCFs, comprising 10 firm orders and 10 purchase rights.

“Having operated two leased 737-800 BCFs across our wide European network, we are very pleased with how the flexibility and reliability of these freighters fulfil our operational needs in meeting our customer requirements,” said Hugh Flynn, ASL’s chief executive.

“The aircraft is highly efficient and right-sized for our developing operations on behalf of our express cargo customers who are experiencing growing demand. The 737-800BCF will also give us access to new markets.”

ASL, which operates for integrators, is not alone in liking the 737-800BCFs. The biggest news so far from the show is Gecas’s agreement with Boeing to exercise 10 purchase rights to firm orders, and add 15 more purchase rights for 737-800 BCFs.

These are destined for Amazon, and are expected to be operated by Atlas subsidiary Southern Air on behalf of the carrier. 

The growth in Amazon’s fleet, which currently has just five 737Fs, had been predicted following FedEx’s decision to withdraw from its contract with the retailer for US domestic express services. 

Amazon plans to connect more than 20 airports in the US with its fleet, and by 2021 will have some 70 aircraft supporting its one-day delivery programme. 

The other ‘order’ so far is more of a reconfirmation of an existing MoU. China Airlines has reiterated its plans for six 777 freighters. 

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