After formally launching the A350 freighter program in July, without a launch customer, Airbus has provided an update on the program. Speaking at the Airbus Summit in Toulouse this week, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer confirmed that the cargo variant has garnered strong interest and is selling well. However, he declined to give any details.
Generally, Boeing is the king of cargo. Now Airbus is poised to challenge Boeing’s hold over the purpose-built freighter market. The manufacturer launched the A350 Freighter in July after claiming there was strong demand from customers.
It seems that interest in the A350 freighter is still high and official orders are on the horizon. Speaking to journalists at an event in Toulouse, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer confirmed, “We are in a number of very encouraging discussions,” going on to say, “It is available for sale and is selling.”
Although Scherer didn’t give away any hints as to which airlines are making Airbus so confident, speculation is rife as to which carrier will launch the A350 Freighter. Current plans are to have the new member of the A350 family in service by 2025.
Demand for the Freighter
Airbus launched the A350 Freighter program claiming they didn’t want to restrict themselves to a launch customer or to have a certain number of orders in advance. They plunged in after multiple airlines and cargo-only operators expressed interest. Scherer didn’t confirm the launch customer but did say,
“So really the answer to your question – ‘At what time are we going to announce the launch customer’ I’m not going to answer. But, of course, there will be customers. There’s a number of discussions that are very, very encouraging.“
Maybe they already have a launch customer but are waiting to release details. We’ll have to wait and see.
Scherer also detailed how demand for the aircraft will likely continue over the coming years thanks to the environmentally friendly nature of the aircraft. It uses 20% less fuel than other similar aircraft and will be one of the lightest widebodies in production. Airbus claims that it could save up to 25% on operating costs in total.
Competition for Boeing’s 777
The A350 freighter will be Airbus’s serious, direct competition for Boeing’s 777 Freighter. Thanks to new emissions regulations that come into force at the end of 2027, Boeing will need a new eco-friendly freighter. The 777X seems the logical next step, and just as with the A350 Freighter, rumors have been circling for some time.
With demand for cargo still very high due to ongoing travel restrictions, we could see Boeing and Airbus go head-to-head over the next few years. Boeing has dominated for years with its 767, 777, and 747 aircraft but the tide could be about to turn.
What do you think of the A350 freighter? Do you think it will be a serious challenge to Boeing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.