June 21, 2023

Cargo aircraft missing from Paris Air Show dealmaking


Boeing and Airbus have used the Paris Air Show this week to highlight customer orders for new aircraft, but there is little activity on the freighter front so far. On Tuesday, Boeing announced the first cargo-related deal with African carrier Air Algérie, although it involves aftermarket conversion of passenger aircraft and not production of new aircraft.

The flag carrier of Algeria placed a firm order with Boeing (NYSE: BA) for eight 737-9 MAX passenger jets and tentatively agreed to place two used 737-800 passenger jets in the freighter conversion program. 

The converted freighters essentially represent the start of a dedicated cargo unit for Air Algérie, which operates 55 passenger aircraft and one Hercules L100-30 — the civilian variant of the Lockheed C-130 military transport, according to the company’s website.

The 737-800 is a standard-size aircraft and can carry more than 26 tons of payload once reconfigured for carrying containers on the main deck. Air Algérie’s passenger fleet includes 25 737-800s. 

The dearth of orders for freighters at the Paris Air Show indicates that the 16-month downturn in air cargo demand is causing leasing companies and cargo airlines to slow down capital expenditures for new aircraft. During the prior three years there was an explosion in orders for converted freighters.

Boeing on Tuesday also struck deals with China Airlines for eight 787-9 Dreamliners and with lessor Avolon for 40 737-8 MAX aircraft.

Air Tanzania 767 freighter

Africa’s prospects for economic growth is driving regional carriers to beef up their freighter capacity. Air Tanzania this month took delivery of its first 767-300 production freighter from Boeing, marking the manufacturer’s first sale of a new-build freighter to an African carrier.

The medium-size widebody freighter, which provides Air Tanzania more cargo flexibility beyond its passenger fleet, is expected to carry imports and exports of perishable goods, pharmaceuticals and e-commerce products that require timely delivery. 

Air Tanzania currently operates commercial service across Africa and to destinations in Asia with a fleet that includes two 787-8 Dreamliners. The airline also has orders for an additional 787-8 and two 737 MAX jets.

In May, Boeing delivered three 777 Freighters: one each to China Airlines, China Southern Airlines and DHL Aviation. UPS received two 767-300 freighters and FedEx Express added one.

Airbus takes early Paris lead

Airbus has dominated the Paris show so far, led by a blockbuster order from India’s IndiGo for 500 A320 aircraft. Flynas, a low-cost Saudi Arabian airline, finalized an order for 30 A320 neos; Air Mauritius and Philippine Airlines made purchase commitments for three and nine A350 long-haul jets; and Qantas finalized an incremental order for nine A220 regional jets.

Air India also finalized previously announced orders for 250 Airbus jets and 290 Boeing single-aisle and widebody aircraft.

Click here for more FreightWaves stories by Eric Kulisch.


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