After several months of ‘will they, won’t they?’, Russian cargo airline Volga-Dnepr has taken delivery of its first Boeing 777 Freighter. The group first placed an order for 29 freighters back in 2018, but legal issues earlier this year raised questions over delivery. This initial delivery forms part of a leaseback partnership for three 777s with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE). But why has there been so much drama surrounding Volga-Dnepr’s 777s?
In a statement regarding the delivery, the all-cargo group said, “Volga-Dnepr is dedicated to the development and optimal composition of the fleet, and believes that the 777F will allow it to take the next step in providing a more sustainable and efficient service to its customers.”
It’s thought this first delivery is part of the partnership with DAE because Volga gave thanks to the company in its statement. Volga thanks DAE for its continued support over what it called “an extremely difficult year.” Volga also touched lightly on the legal drama surrounding its relationship with Boeing.
What’s all the drama about?
A year after its initial order for 29 777 freighters, Volga-Dnepr announced its partnership with DAE. However, what looked like a promising order for Boeing, quickly became fraught with issues. A poor 2019 saw Volga renounce its order for three 777Fs and one 747-8F. According to legal documents from Boeing, a Volga representative stormed out of a meeting, telling Boeing to remarket and resell the aircraft because Vogla could not take delivery anymore.
Boeing considered the order canceled, so went ahead with finding another buyer. However, thanks to an increase in demand for cargo planes, Volga said it now did want to take delivery of the four jets, and Boeing could not sell the aircraft to someone else. The issue went to court when Volga sued Boeing, but the US courts sided with Boeing.
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Yet, just a few months later, Volga has taken delivery of the first jet. It’s special thanks to DAE highlighted that it was DAE who “allowed it to find solutions for the purchase and delivery of aircraft,” suggesting perhaps that it was DAE that helped smooth the situation.
The 777 Freighter
Currently, The Volga-Dnepr group operates Boeing 747 freighters, making this its first 777F. The 777 offers a capacity of approximately 102 tonnes compared to the 747Fs 138 tonnes. The 747 has the added bonus of front-loaded for extra-large or awkward items. Having said this, the 777F can fly further. Despite the many advantages of the 747F, Boeing confirmed it would end production of the four-engine jets in just a few years.
However, there has been growing demand from airlines for a 777X freighter. Qatar Airways is one of several airlines calling for the development of such a jet. However, without a significant order to cover development costs, the 777X may never appear.
From Boeing’s perspective, without a significant first order, there is no desire to create a 777X freighter. The existing 777 is a powerhouse and arguably the most popular freight aircraft for long-haul flights around the world.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on a potential Boeing 777X freighter. Do you think we will see it join the Boeing fleet soon? Or is the 777F all we need right now? Let us know what you think in the comments.