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Airbus secures first dedication to freighter model of A350 jet

Airbus has secured its first dedication for a brand new freighter model of its widespread A350 plane, because the European aircraft maker seeks to problem US rival Boeing’s dominance of the booming cargo market.

Below an settlement unveiled on the Dubai air present on Monday, US lessor Air Lease stated it had positioned a preliminary order for seven wide-body A350 freighter plane.

The bundle consists of commitments for a spread of different planes, together with 55 single-aisle A321neos and 20 of the longer-range A321XLR because the European group appears to be like to tackle Boeing, which has lengthy dominated the new-build wide-body freighter market. The US firm says it gives greater than 90 per cent of worldwide devoted freighter capability.

The Airbus order, though preliminary, underpins the corporate’s plans to launch a freighter model of its wide-body A350, first introduced in July.

Boeing, in the meantime, is predicted to launch a competing freighter model of its 777X jet within the coming months.

Each corporations are looking for to capitalise on a surge in cargo site visitors in the course of the pandemic as shoppers turned on-line. Freighter site visitors elevated as passenger plane that sometimes carry 50 per cent of airborne items have been grounded in the course of the disaster.

Cargo-only airways picked up a lot of the slack the place they may, whereas many airways converted their jets into makeshift freighter planes or introduced again retired plane to deal with the hovering demand for private safety tools.

Air cargo volumes hit an all-time high in March this year as the worldwide financial system recovered. Transport delays have solely added to the surge in demand.

In September, cargo tonne-kilometres, a measure of freight site visitors, were up 9.4 per cent compared with the same month in 2019, based on numbers from the Worldwide Air Transport Affiliation.

Hovering transport costs have additionally made air journey look extra reasonably priced. In September, the common worth to maneuver air cargo was 3 times greater than by sea, down from 12.5 instances earlier than the pandemic.

The order “alerts we’re shifting past the Covid doldrums” stated Christian Scherer, Airbus chief industrial officer. Air Lease’s endorsement for the A350 freighter “confirms the worldwide enthusiasm we see for this quantum leap within the freighter house”.

Boeing additionally introduced new freighter orders over the weekend. Shipper DHL ordered 9 767-300 transformed freighters on Sunday, and Emirates ordered two 777 freighters. The Chicago firm stated it had obtained 38 orders for its best-selling 777 freighter this 12 months, “tied to sustained demand for air cargo”.

Airbus stated on the weekend that it anticipated industry growth to be pushed, partly by the hovering demand for air cargo. It forecast a necessity for about 2,440 freighters over the subsequent 20 years, of which 880 can be new-build.

Rob Stallard, analyst at Vertical Analysis Companions, stated the A350 freighter was a “nice-to-have for Airbus” reasonably than a “must-have recreation changer”.

“The brand new freighter market is fairly small versus the passenger markets, however it’s by no means good to have a class the place your competitor has a monopoly — they will use tremendous regular earnings in that space to subsidise extra aggressive components of the portfolio,” he added.

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