Cargo has come to the forefront of aviation over the last year and become a critical operation for airlines. For passenger airlines, having a fleet of cargo jets could have been the difference between survival and collapse in 2020. Here are some passenger airlines that also operate freighter aircraft.
The data used in this article is from IATA’s World Air Transport Statistics, as seen in Air Cargo News. The list is not exhaustive and highlights some of the largest passenger-cargo airlines globally.
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Cathay Pacific Cargo, the freight arm of the Hong Kong flag carrier, is the third-largest cargo carrier in Asia. The airline exclusively operates a fleet of Boeing 747 freighters, namely the 747-8F and 747-400ERF (extended range freighter). In total, the airline has 20 freighters, with 14 747-8Fs and six 747-400ERFs.
Emirates SkyCargo is the second-largest cargo airline in Asia, exclusively operating the Boeing 777F. Based in Dubai, the airline operates 11 777 freighters, which are based on the design of the 777-200LRs (but with the fuel capacity of the larger variant). In addition to its cargo fleet, Emirates has begun operating the passenger A380s and 777s on some special cargo missions as well.
Lufthansa Cargo, owned by the Lufthansa Group, is the largest cargo airline in Europe. The carrier operates a unique fleet of Boeing 777Fs and the McDonnel Douglas MD-11Fs. Based out of Frankfurt, the airline focuses on routes in Asia and Europe, with hubs in Hyderabad and Novosibirsk. Lufthansa Cargo currently operates 14 planes with nine 777Fs and five MD-11Fs and was previously a member of the WOW Alliance.
Qatar Airways Cargo
Qatar Airways’ cargo arm has grown quickly is now second to only FedEx in global cargo operators. The airline currently operates four Airbus A330Fs, two Boeing 747-8Fs, and 24 777Fs. This figure has only been growing in the last few years, with three 777Fs joining the fleet just this month. Qatar Airways Cargo could become the largest cargo airlines globally in the coming year with this growth.
Turkish Airlines Cargo has grown quickly in the last few years to become the fifth-largest cargo airline in Europe and eighth in the world. The airline flies a fleet of 25 planes consisting of 10 Airbus A330Fs, eight Boeing 777Fs, four 747-400Fs, two A310-300Fs, and two A300-600F. This makes Turkish one of the few airlines that have to have a balanced number of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with most going squarely with Boeing.
Turkish Airlines cargo recorded a huge 24.6% growth from 2018 to 2019, a figure that will likely rise once the data for 2020 is available.
The cargo market dramatically changed in 2020 as passenger airlines began deploying more planes for cargo-only flights. While FedEx, UPS, and Cargolux continue to be in the top rungs of the list, more passenger airlines could be looking for an expansion in the cargo market.