Earlier this week, Boeing celebrated another significant Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) milestone by re-delivering its 50th B767-300BCF. LATAM Airlines Group, the South American giant, received the aircraft. Let’s investigate further.
Going back to 2018
Three years ago, LATAM Airlines Group received its first B767-300BCF in December 2018. So far, the carrier has taken delivery of four units, including the 50th overall for Boeing.
The B767-300BCF delivers market-leading efficiency, the lowest operating costs, excellent payload and range capabilities, said Boeing on social media.
Back in 2018, Andrés Bianchi, LATAM Cargo CEO, stated,
“The arrival of this aircraft improves our presence across Latin America by strengthening our freighter operation and complements the passenger network. This aircraft is a clear signal of LATAM’s compromise with the cargo markets through the region.”
A few years after, these words are truer than ever. The freighter segment has recovered faster and has grown compared to its pre-pandemic levels. On March 1, 2021, LATAM announced a significant expansion of its cargo operations by converting up to eight B767-300ER into BCF aircraft.
During 2021’s third quarter, LATAM reported cargo revenues increased by 43.6% in the quarter compared to the same period of 2019. The airline had US$361.4 million in revenue, driven by another strong performance from the group’s freighters.
The airline added,
“LATAM continues to take advantage of opportunities in the sector, with ten B767 passenger aircraft to be converted into cargo freighters between 2021 and 2023. The conversion of its second freighter began in October. The delivery of the first converted freighter is expected during the fourth quarter of 2021.”
We celebrated another significant Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) milestone at the end of this year, re-delivering our 50th 767-300BCF.
The 767-300BCF delivers market-leading efficiency, lowest operating costs and excellent payload and range capabilities. pic.twitter.com/58LgR6EcBe
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) December 20, 2021
According to Aviacionline, this fourth aircraft has a serial number 35,697. It was the 40th airplane modified by ST Engineering in Singapore.
LATAM plans to increase its freighter capacity by up to 80% in the next three years. The plan is divided into two gradual stages, as the airline said in March.
The airline will receive four re-deliveries between 2021 and 2022. Upon completion of that phase, LATAM’s cargo operators fleet would reach a total of 15 B767-300ER freighters. The second phase includes four conversion options between 2022 and 2023. This could take LATAM’s fleet to 19 freighters, up from 11 at the start of 2021.
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Boeing’s cargo business and the 767BCF
The B767-300BCF is a particularly versatile airplane, said Boeing. It allows airlines to carry up to 52 tonnes of revenue payload, with lower costs. The aircraft is 18% more efficient per tonne than the A300F.
So far, in 2021, Boeing has had a record-breaking year for freighter sales. The OEM has registered 80 firm orders for new widebody freighters and more than 80 orders for BCF aircraft. This year, air cargo demand has surged due to an expansion of e-commerce and express cargo markets.
Going forward, Boeing forecasts an annual increase of 4% in air cargo demand over the next 20 years. Nonetheless, the US company faces pressure from Airbus and the A350F. So far, Boeing hasn’t designed a B777X Freighter, although it could be in the cards for the near future.
Despite Airbus’ recent growth, do you think Boeing will maintain its grip on the freighter market? Let us know in the comments below.