While passenger numbers may have plummeted over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the need for cargo capacity has increased substantially. Initially, the transport of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators spurned growth and was then followed by the need to transport COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
Airlines and air cargo operators know that going forward, air freight will continue to grow, and that is why we have seen a sudden jump in orders for the Airbus A350F. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the Airbus A350F and see who has placed orders for a freighter version of Airbus’s flagship aircraft.
The Dubai Airshow
The first orders for the freighter version came during the recent Dubai Airshow with American aircraft leasing company Air Lease Corporation (ALC) placing an order with the European planemaker for 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, four A330neos, and seven A350Fs.
Within hours of the Dubai Airshow wrapping up French container transportation and shipping company, the CMA CGM Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Airbus for four A350F freighter aircraft. When speaking about the deal with the CMA CGM Group, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International Christian Scherer, said:
“The A350F will fit perfectly into the company’s existing fleet of Airbus freighters. Thanks to its composite airframe and state-of-the-art engines, it will bring unsurpassed efficiency in terms of fuel consumption, economy, and CO₂ emissions, boosting the Group’s long-term sustainable growth.“
“Having the early backing of an international cargo powerhouse such as CMA CGM Group is very gratifying,” he concluded.
Singapore Airlines and Air France-KLM want the A350F
The next company to show its support for the Airbus A350F was Asian carrier Singapore Airlines, who, on December 15, 2020, signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Airbus for seven A350F freighter aircraft. The agreement will see the island nation carrier use the more efficient Airbus A350F to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 747-400F aircraft. Singapore Airlines says it would like to complete this by the fourth quarter of 2025.
No sooner had Singapore Airlines put pen to paper, French national flag carrier Air France jumped into the ring, telling Airbus that they wished to sign a Letter of Intent (LoI) for four A350Fs along with the purchase rights for four future aircraft.
The order comes at a time when the Air France-KLM Group is looking to increase its cargo capacity. Going forward, Air France is already committed to making the A350 passenger version of the plane the spearhead of its long-haul network.
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What does the A350F have to offer?
Based on its successful A350 passenger aircraft, the A350F sees the European planemaker entering a market that until now was dominated by Boeing. Compared to the Boeing 777F workhorse, the Airbus A350F will offer a large main deck optimized for the loading and unloading of cargo. Airbus says that when compared to the Boeing 777F, the A350F will offer 11% more cargo room. Currently, the Airbus A350F is not scheduled to enter service until 2025, but with interest being shown, we can probably expect to see more orders in the coming months.
What do you think about the Airbus A350F? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.