UPS super sizes fleet with Airbus A380
UPS said it has placed an order with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for 10 A380 super high capacity, long-range freighters as part of the parcel delivery giant’s effort to keep up with demand for international shipping.
“The A380 will allow UPS to effectively meet the fast-growing demands of our customers across a variety of global trade lanes,” said John Beystehner, chief operating officer and president of UPS Airlines, in a statement.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2009 and continue through 2012. UPS has the option to purchase 10 more of the super jumbo jets. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The order matches one by rival FedEx in 2001. FedEx is one of the original launch customers for the A380, and will begin taking deliveries in 2008.
In a related move, UPS said it reached agreement with Airbus to reduce its previous order for 90 A300-600s to 53. To date, 40 A300s have been delivered and the remaining 13 will be delivered by July 2006. The aircraft has a payload of nearly 58 tons and a range of 2,500 miles.
Last March, the Wall Street Journal reported UPS sought to cancel orders for at least 20 A300-600s because it felt it could use its ground network to meet more of its short-haul demands, and wanted to save money on planes it didn’t need. Airbus said it was willing to discuss rescheduling the order, but that the contract was firm. UPS denied it was trying to rescind its order.
Airbus appears to have gone along with a change order for the A300 in exchange for a large order for the A380.
Airbus plans to deliver its first 550-seat, double-decker A380 in 2006. It has orders for 149 planes so far.
The A380 freighter version has three cargo decks, compared to two in the Boeing 747-400 freighter, with 40,000 cubic feet of capacity and a maximum payload of 150 tons. It can accommodate 71 large cargo pallets. The standard Boeing 747-400 freighter can carry 124 tons and has a range of 2,600 miles. The A380 has nearly twice the payload of the MD-11, another long-range aircraft that is part of both the UPS and FedEx fleets. It has a range of 5,600 nautical miles, enabling it to fly more non-stop legs than other aircraft.
The extra capacity means FedEx and UPS can handle more cargo with fewer flights, an important factor in China where U.S. airlines have a limited number of weekly slots.
UPS's decision is a blow to Boeing, which has lost market share and the overall lead in worldwide deliveries of commercial airliners to Airbus in recent years. UPS operates nine 747-100s and four 747-200s.
UPS’s international business grew 13.2 percent in the third quarter compared to the same 2003 period. Asia export volume increased 29 percent and export volume from China more than doubled.