Lufthansa Cargo will be the second customer of the next-generation Boeing 777-8 after announcing on Monday the largest investment in the company’s history and ordering 10 large cargo planes that will increase payload by two-thirds over the next decade.

Aircraft maker Embraer said the first sale of the refurbished E190 regional aircraft will be shipped to Nordic Aviation Capital, which will send 10 passenger planes from its fleet to Brazil for a change.

The decisions reflect the optimism of suppliers and operators regarding the further growth of the air transport market after the boom of the last two years caused by the pandemic.

The cargo division of Deutsche Lufthansa said it would purchase three modern 777 cargo planes to meet short- and medium-term demand and seven 777-8s. The German carrier has also said it is extending the lease for two existing Boeing 777 cargo planes, which expire after 2024, for another seven years.

The multilateral approach involves the purchase of one used cargo ship in July and the placement of orders at Boeing for two factory 777 aircraft. Boeing will also build seven 777-8 aircraft, scheduled for delivery between 2027 and 2030.

Lufthansa (DXE: LHA) is also a customer of the passenger version of the technically improved 777, now called the 777-9, with a firm order for 20 aircraft. At the stage of development, the aircraft was called 777-X.

Lufthansa Cargo, one of the top 15 carriers in the world, currently controls 15,777 cargo ships, four of which are operated by the DHL Express AeroLogic joint venture. This spring, the company also began using two refitted Airbus A321 cargo planes, narrow-body aircraft that airlines have only recently introduced to the market. The cargo airline also manages the booking and handling of cargo carried out in the parent company’s extensive global passenger network, as well as its subsidiaries Lufthansa Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings Discover.

The German carrier’s order for 777-8 restores momentum for the product after Boeing (NYSE: BA) great deal in late January with Qatar Airways. European competitor Airbus last year released the A350 cargo aircraft model based on its popular wide-body passenger aircraft and has received 29 orders and pre-commitments from five airlines since November.

Last month, Boeing postponed the expected delivery of the 777-9 until 2025, more than a year later than projected, and will suspend production until the end of this year because it will take longer than expected to meet certification requirements. The production break is designed to prevent stockpiling, which may require changes based on final certification, but it will add $ 1.2 billion to the cost of the project. Boeing previously listed $ 6.5 billion for the 777-X program due to development problems.

Boeing said the 777-9 production stop has opened the door for additional 777 cargo tanks starting this year. International emission regulations require Boeing to stop production of the current 777 option in 2027.

The new 777 complements Lufthansa’s large cargo fleet. Representatives of the company said that the load capacity, fuel efficiency and maintenance of the type of one fleet were key factors in Lufthansa’s investment decision.

Lufthansa also acquired seven 787-9 passenger aircraft as part of the fleet upgrade. Boeing has agreed to increase production to compensate for the 777-9 delays. With the new investment, net capital expenditures will be about $ 2.6 billion by 2024.

According to Boeing, the 777-8 has a payload of about the same as the 747-400 cargo, while providing a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency, emissions and operating costs. It will also have 17% more cargo volume than the old 777, along with a 15% fuel advantage. Technological improvements include a new carbon fiber composite wing and economical GE engines. With a range of 4410 nautical miles 777-8 will allow airlines to make fewer stops and reduce tolls on long-haul routes.

“These major investments in Lufthansa Cargo are a sign of confidence in the future development of the air transport market and the role that Lufthansa Cargo will continue to play in it,” said CEO Dorothea von Boksberg in a press release on fleet modernization.

Boeing’s commercial market forecast for 2021 envisions an increase in the world’s fleet of trucks by 70% by 2040, including about 450 new large wide-body trucks.

Embraer lands first cargo ship order

Meanwhile, Nordic Aviation Capital, which specializes in leasing regional aircraft, has in principle agreed to occupy up to 10 production slots to convert the E190 / E195 aircraft into a cargo plane, the company said Monday. The first deliveries will begin in 2024.

Nordic Aviation has said that the conversion of passenger to cargo aircraft is a new element of its portfolio strategy, allowing it to continue to return on investment by extending the life of older aircraft.

Embraer launched its E-Jet conversion program in early March. The Brazilian glider predicts a market of about 700 aircraft that could be retrofitted for specialized cargo operations over the next 20 years. It says there are a number of E190 / 195 aircraft aged 10 to 15 that are already good candidates for cargo transformation.

“There is an unprecedented demand for air travel, especially same-day delivery and decentralized work, an ideal mission for E-Jet-sized freight,” said Embraer President and CEO Johan Bardice.

Embraer says the E-Jet cargo will fill the gap in the freight market between turboprop and narrow-body, such as the 737 and A321. The E-Jet offers 50% more volume and three times the range compared to large cargo turboprop aircraft, as well as 30% lower operating costs than standard aircraft.

The redevelopment will include the installation of large front cargo doors of the main deck, reinforced flooring, a protective shield behind the cockpit, a smoke detection system and fire extinguishers in the upper compartment, and a cargo handling system.

The E190F will have a payload of £ 23,600 and the E195F up to £ 27,100.

Embraer is the latest aircraft manufacturer to launch a freight program. In addition to the new Boeing and Airbus cargo planes, Textron recently began production of the Cessna SkyCourier a large turboprop cargo ship.

Click here for more FreightWaves / American Shipper stories by Eric Kulish.


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