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Boeing sees rising demand for freighter conversions

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing (NYSE: BA) is experiencing an uplift in business to convert former passenger planes for all-cargo operations.

“Strong demand is driven by customers transitioning to newer-generation freighters and choosing a Boeing converted freighter (BCF) as a cost-efficient alternative that can be modified with approximately a 90-day turnaround time, regardless of the conversion facility,” spokeswoman Laura Fenton told American Shipper.

Sustained e-commerce growth and an abundance of affordable aircraft to convert to freighters is driving this demand, she added.

German courier DHL Express (OTCMKTS: DPSGY) recently contracted with Boeing to convert four 767-300 passenger planes to freighter operations. The express carrier said conversions are part of an effort to modernize its long-haul intercontinental aircraft fleet.

“We have operated the 767-300F model across our global fleet for many years and look forward to continue investing in the platform by adding more 767-300BCFs,” said Geoff Kehr, DHL’s senior vice president of global air fleet management, in a statement.

The website Plane Spotter says DHL Express currently operates a fleet of 34 767-300 freighters.

According to Boeing, the 767-300BCF has the same cargo capacity as the purpose-built 767-300 freighter, with about a 50-ton payload and a 3,000-nautical-mile flight range.

In another recent announcement, Boeing said it will convert two 737-800 passenger planes to cargo operations for Aircraft Finance Germany (AFG), an aircraft brokerage firm.

The 737-800 cargo plane can carry up to 24 tons of freight per payload and with a 2,000-nautical-mile flight range is best suited for regional express services, Boeing said.

Boeing delivered its first 737-800BCF in 2018 and now has 10 airline customers that utilize the cargo aircraft. The company said it has ramped up production of 737-800BCFs with 132 aircraft orders. So far, Boeing has delivered 34 of the converted planes.

Boeing did not disclose financial terms of the aircraft conversions for DHL and AGF.

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Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Chris Gillis.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.