Boeing official says no freighter orders canceled despite slump
A Boeing representative told American Shipper that no freighter orders have been canceled as a result of the depressed air cargo market this year.
Jim Edgar, Boeing regional marketing director of commercial planes, said at The International Air Cargo Association’s Air Cargo Forum in Kuala Lumpur this week that carriers were still eager to have fuel-efficient planes enter their fleets.
'We ended last year with 159 firm orders and haven't lost any of them,' he said. Although there are now 151 freighters on order, the other eight were converted to passenger jet orders, not canceled.
Edgar said Boeing, as a plane manufacturer, is most concerned about 'the balance between fuel prices forcing efficiency (i.e. newer planes) and dampening economic growth. Whether or not we reached a tipping point, I don't know.'
He said 20 percent of the 747 classic freighters have been taken out of service because they were not economically viable with elevated fuel prices.
Boeing released its biennial World Air Cargo Forecast earlier this week, and said demand for freighters over the next 20 years will not be affected by the current downturn. Air cargo growth is projected to rise between 4.8 percent and 6.7 percent annually over that time, depending on how much world GDP grows over the next two decades.
Edgar said many airlines had indicated they would have liked to have seen 777s deployed even earlier than they were this year, as the more fuel efficient jets would have been very useful to combat high fuel costs during the summer.
Lastly, he said there was no fixed date for the launch of 747-8 freighter, the most fuel-efficient version yet of the Boeing’s signature model. A strike by Boeing machinists this fall delayed the launch, which was initially supposed to happen in the second half of 2010.