Global air cargo capacity dependent on Boeing machinists

By its own claims, the Boeing Company’s freighters comprise over 90% of total worldwide freighter lift. Orders for 747 and 777 freighters and freighter conversions are substantial, but deliveries could be delayed now that Boeing 18,300 machinists have gone on strike. One Boeing official said a machinist strike would force the company into an “orderly shutdown” of production.

A number of freight operations could be affected by any disruption or delay in Boeing production, including Boeing’s own production of its 787 Dreamliner. The 787 final assembly, according to Boeing, would be supported by development of 747 Large Cargo Freighters which were being modified to meet the 2007 production schedule for the 787.

Boeing said in June that 18 of the world’s top cargo carriers have ordered a total of 126 747-400F and 747-400 extended range freighters. It also has 33 firm orders and 29 options for 747 conversions. Its 787 Dreamliner is scheduled to enter service in 2008. Boeing has 252 announced firm orders from 20 airlines for the 787.

UPS and Boeing announced on August 17, 2005 the parcel carrier had placed a firm order for eight 747-400 freighters. The first delivery was scheduled for June 2007. Two more 747-400F aircraft would be delivered in 2007 and the remaining five would be delivered in 2008. UPS also has scheduled future deliveries of eight MD11 freighters.

China Cargo Airlines said it would acquire two 747-400 extended-range freighters, with delivery scheduled for the first one in 2006 and the second in 2007.

Nippon Cargo Airlines took delivery of its first 747-400F in June 2005 and is slated to receive another three. Its fleet is all 747’s (six 747-200F, four 747-200F special freighter conversions and one 747-100F conversion).

Air France announced in May an order for five 777 freighters with an option for three more. The 777, which is based on the 777-200 extended range, will enter service in January 2008 and Air France is slated to take delivery of its first freighter in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Air Canada also included the 777F in its announced renewal of its long-haul fleet.

UPS is also heavily committed to Boeing aircraft. It previously announced orders for 75 757-200 package freighters and 32 767-300 freighters.

Boeing says there are 108 747-400 freighters in service worldwide. The company noted a total of 260 747 freighters are in operation when all versions are counted. Boeing freighters account for over 90% of the world’s freighter lift, the company continued.

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