UPS NEARS PACT WITH BOEING FOR FREIGHTERS
United Parcel Service Inc. is close to signing a deal with Boeing Co. to obtain dozens of passenger jets converted into freighters, industry sources said on Friday.
UPS has been examining its options for acquiring additional large freighter aircraft for the last year. News reports say the company may be near a decision to go with MD-11s and B747s. The deal is reported to involve about 30 aircraft under a conversion and services contract worth more than $1 billion.
Boeing and UPS would not confirm on Friday that a contract had been signed.
The deal would be a major win for Boeing’s Airplane Services unit, which the planemaker set up last year to launch freighter conversion programs for most of its aircraft models. Boeing Airplane Services signed a multibillion-dollar deal with DHL International last year to convert 40 B757 passenger planes into freighters. Boeing is seeking other major clients to help jump-start conversion programs for other aircraft, such as the MD-11 and the B767. Boeing already has programs for the B747 and the B737.
Both Boeing and Airbus Industrie expect the worldwide freighter fleet to double to more than 3,000 planes in the next 20 years. They predict most of the new freighters will be converted from passenger configuration.
Airbus has made inroads into the converted freighter market in recent years with its medium-sized A300 model. UPS is a major customer of Airbus’ A300 conversion program, having placed a $5 billion order in 1998 for up to 60 A300-600 freighters.