Airbus factors to freighter model of the A350 to faucet into the recent cargo market

A worker checks on Monday the 10th

Nathan Laine | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Airbus is considering developing a freighter version of its A350 wide-body aircraft, the European manufacturer’s chief commercial officer said Tuesday, a move that could rival competitor Boeing in the air freight market.

The air freight market was a bright spot during the Covid pandemic. Rates rose after the virus and travel restrictions devastated passenger traffic and took the space in the aircraft belly out of the market, creating a supply shortage. The creaking in the ports has also boosted demand for air freight.

“That has exacerbated the fact that the freighter market is undersupplied by Airbus today,” said Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer in a webcast briefing. “Many of our customers have told us, ‘You have been an impressive force in this industry. … Please do the same in the freighter market.’ That is an important message to bear in mind. “

Scherer declined to provide details on when the company would make a decision, but said, “We have some wind in our sails to see an A350 freighter emergency.”

April air freight demand, the latest data available, rose 12% compared to April 2019 before the pandemic, beating a 2018 high, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Airbus competitor Boeing produces several cargo planes such as the 747 and 767 for customers UPS, FedEx and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, contractors for Amazon’s aviation branch, as well as for airlines that operate both passenger and air cargo businesses.

The pandemic has also sparked a surge in demand for retired passenger planes to be converted into cargo planes.

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