Cargolux, Part 3: alternative lift to the ‘rejected’ 747s

On the final night at ISTAT in Barcelona, a new scenario has been suggested in the continuing saga of the Cargolux situation.

Cargolux previously  said may seek freighter capacity elsewhere if an agreement with Boeing isn’t reached on compensation.

Where, you might ask, is there immediate lift available?

The answer, it was suggested, are 777-200Fs, owned and operated by….drum roll, please….Qatar Airways.

It’s all speculation but interesting to ponder.

Aviation Week has this story that contains more detail about the fuel burn issue and Qatar’s involvement.

32 Comments on “Cargolux, Part 3: alternative lift to the ‘rejected’ 747s

  1. And any future lift may be provided by their 330Fs – Not new builds mind you but P2F conversions. Qatar certainly wants to be the launch customer for the program.

    And I quote:

    “Some carriers have been pressing hard for the early startup of the A330F conversion program. A spokesman from Qatar Airways has stated that they want to convert up to 15 of their A330 fleet into freighters as soon as possible. That might have been spurred by Qatar’s recent investment in European all-cargo carrier Cargolux, but it is also thought that the Gulf carrier may look to lease some of its conversions.”

    • Can two 330P2F really be cheaper to operate than one 748F ?

      Leveraging synergies.
      ( Well not quite the way I projected 😉

  2. Well – from a business standpoint – if the (early) 748Fs are heavy and thirsty to an extent that would allow Cargolux to walk away from the contract without penalty, and with Qatar now in the Cargolux boat, supplanting the 748Fs with Qatar’s 772Fs would only be a logic consequence , wouldn’t it?

  3. Looking at the new 747s development for the last 7 years, I would not be very surprised if LH remains the only operators of the 747-8 in passenger service. The world has had a sea of opportunities to evaluate and order the 747-8i in good and bad times but just passed. The 5 8is for Korean can be easily converted. E.g. 2 for the government, 3 converted to F’s bringing their 8F total to 10.

    The 777-9X, beefed up A3510 and A380 track record won’t help.

    • KE like LH have a well staggered fleet. If they use the -8i for managing granularity
      they may well stay with it in passenger service.

      Hmm, does KE have an MX arm like LH? I know they do have quite a standing in aerospace manufacturing.

  4. I just don’t see how the 2 B-777Fs from QR to CV would replace the B-747-8F order of some 13 aiplanes. Even throwing in the 15 A-330P2F conversions with the B-777Fs won’t equil the same tonnage of airlift of the 13 B-747-8Fs. The A-330P2F program is still in its infancy and the A-310P2F program only has a limited number of airplanes available. Boeing has several successful freighter conversions, with a good number of airplanes available, now. They have the B-744BCF, B-763BCF, and B-762BCF programs going now and are looking at conversions of the B-777-200/-200ER airplanes now, too.

    I will admit that Airbus can ‘piggy-back’ the A-330P2F program off of the A-330MRTT program, as some of those tankers will have a cargo door and floor, others will not, they also benefit from the A-330F program, just as the Boeing programs benefit from the freight versions of their airplanes in the conversion process. So, some of the engineering work is already done. But it is also true the A-330P2F will not have the lift capability, or range of the A-330F dedicated freighter. No conversion program does.

    keesje, you seem to have forgotten about the 15 B-747-8Is ordered at the PAS by China (but apparently not firm, yet). There are also some 9-13 BBJ/VIP versions of the B-747-8I on order (compared to only 1 A-380-VIP). There is no reason for KE to convert some or all of their B-747-8Is to B-747-8Fs, and we don’t know that the Korean Government isn’t one of the BBJ/VIP customers, do we?

    The fact remains there are currently just 3 VLA freighter or conversion programs, the B-748F, B-744BCF, and An-124 (restart) in the world today. I don’t see anywhere that the An-124 relaunch program will go beyond 20-25 airplanes. Airbus has nothing to compete in this area as the A-380F program is dead and no one is talking about an A-380P2F program, yet. No amount of other WB BCF or P2F conversions (B-767-2/-3BCF, A-330P2F, B-777BCF, A-306P2F, or A-310 P2F) can compete, either.

    • I would expect the Dresden (A300, A310, other stuff) conversion facility to
      just continue with A330(and A340?) conversions.

      They seem to have capacity for better than 20frames per year.
      QR has been previously pressing for this already.

      The A380F has not been taken from Airbus coporate website.
      “News about my death, ..” and all that jazz comes to mind.

  5. Well, yes Uwe. The A-380F is not completely dead, but it is not an active program, either. I don’t think Airbus is even seriously offering it. It was a program during the developement of the A-380-800, but with all the problems the A-380 program had Airbus ‘officially’ moved it to the ‘back burner’ after FedEx canceled their order for 10 A-380Fs, IFLC and EK converted their combined 7 to the passenger version, leaving only the 10 ordered by UPS. UPS waited until Airbus announced the “F” program delayed by some 10 years, so they could get back all of their deposit money, then ordered 8 new build B-747-400Fs instead. So, of the 27 A-380Fs ordered 20 were cancelled outright and replaced by Boeing new build freighters, B-744Fs for UPS and B-777-200LRFs for FedEx, and 7 were converted to passenger jets. I have heard nothing of the A-380F program from Airbus sources, on the A-380F, since they put the program on the ‘back burner’. Has it fallen off the edge of the stove?

    • Has it fallen off the edge of the stove?

      When it vanishes from the Airbus website ..

  6. Here is about all there is on the A-380F on the Airbus web site. It calls it the “Freighter of the Future”, but doesn’t say how long into the future it will be before the program is re-launched.

    As usual, Airbus makes some bold claims here about comparing it to “its nearest competitor”, which would be the already flying B-747-8F, B-747-400ERF, and B-747-400F. The B-747-8F has an advertised MTOW of 975,000 lbs, but has demonstrated a MTOW (during flight testing) of 1,050,000 lbs. It has a max cargo weight capacity of 295,800 lbs, or 134.2 tonnes, which will grow with later changes to the airframe.

    • How long will the -8f need to just meet initial spec ?
      The million ton MTOW just tides over the weight gain from spec changes.

      • apropos: didn’t Airbus play around with one of the prototypes being loaded up to a 600t MTOW?

  7. KDX125 :
    Well – from a business standpoint – if the (early) 748Fs are heavy and thirsty to an extent that would allow Cargolux to walk away from the contract without penalty…

    Looks like Atlas Air had the same thought, they just “exercised termination rights for 3 early build 747-8Fs due to delays and performance considerations”

  8. All this talk of this being a personal vendetta misses the point that Cargolux are not the only company discussing cancelling. Boeing admitted as such yesterday.

  9. Just as Scott predicted in an earlier post…
    “As prudent asset managers, terminating the first three aircraft was the right decision for our fleet, our customers and our stockholders,” Atlas Chief Executive Officer William J. Flynn said in the statement. “We expect the remaining 747-8Fs in our order to be better-performing aircraft than those we have terminated.”

  10. Uwe :Has it fallen off the edge of the stove?
    When it vanishes from the Airbus website ..

    Like the A340-300, A340-500, A340-600 and the A318, they are all still “on offer”.
    Well, if somebody is brave enough to order them.

    • Well there _is_ a difference between continuing to offer an “end of life” product
      and showcasing a planned derivative, so I don’t see your allignment being correct.

      OT: Newspaper here had an article about Airbus planning to have an A380-1000
      ready by end of decade ( insinuated that they may jump over the -900 version) .

    • Interesting seeing you make this statement here. You have been calling them “dead and buried” and screaming your head off at anyone objecting to you at that other site.

  11. Reply to KC and Uwe: The A380F’s high development costs contributed to its “:cancellation.” These arose in part because the F’s upper deck was positioned differently from that deck in the pax varient, at least that is what I recall reading at the time. I have since been unable to find confirfmation of this. Does anyhone know?

    • My understanding at the time was that it was tied to resource availability, and the need to focus on delivering 200 ordered planes, instead of designing a plane for 20 orders.

  12. Noticing wath Atlas says, maybe the influence of Qatar, the 787 and Al Baker was less important then the performance shortfall on the -8. Hopefully the first 747-8 can be modified to meet specs. Otherwise Boeing will have to re-market under different condition just like the first 787 batch. Likely the first 747-8is for LH have the same engines / wings and performance. Unless the cargo system is seriously overweight and the 747-8i interior not.

  13. Deck staging was to be different.
    (But it shouldn’t have had the IFE routing issues
    the passenger version had 😉
    Moving the A380F onto the backburner was due to
    developing resource limitations at the time afair.
    Currently the A350XWB binds those resources.

    My impression currently is that AB will do a
    stretch first ( “-900” or “-1000” )

    • Would the different deck staging for the F mean that the pax cannot be converted to a freighter, or that a P2F conversion would be so far less capable than the F, even more so than the typical difference between new build and converted freighters, that it would not be worth it? This difference in upper deck location is yet another example, in my view, of how A’s concept for the A380 was badly done. How could they have made an F so difficult to build when the plane they wanted to replace had been designed from the beginning to be an easily built freighter and pax, and perhpas also made it impossible to convert the pax, thus depriving pax customers of the after mkt value of converting P2F?

      • Going by AC_A380_20101101.pdf p54..57 it looks like
        the decks are the same . ( But I seem to remember some significant difference, Alzheimers light ? ) Reinforced (higher)
        deckbeams? no idea.

  14. “alternative lift to the ‘rejected’ 747s” ?

    Reasonable good 747-400s, with a Conversion + D check in China. ~$80 million?

    747-400 Availability has grown while 777-300ERs and A380 are pushing well maintained 747s from big carriers into the desert.

    Less efficient, but $100.000.000 buys you a lot of fuel.

  15. Gumption :Interesting seeing you make this statement here. You have been calling them “dead and buried” and screaming your head off at anyone objecting to you at that other site.

    You need to read it between the lines. The A380F, the A340-300, the A340-500, the A340-600 and the A318 are obviously dead and buried. But they need to appear an “on offer”, otherwise there would be big “holes” in the offering.
    I sincerely believe there won’ be any other order for the A340 nor for the A318.

    • “I sincerely believe there won’ be any other order for the A340 nor for the A318.”

      I wouldn’t contest that. Still, you are grouping items that lack similarity
      trying to create facts by repetition. Been visiting the dark side too often?

      • Uwe- You haven’t read his blog have you? If you have, his comments wouldn’t be that surprising

        • I have read his blog.
          And I read it in the past before he swapped continents too.

          There are people that have some continuity in their opinions.
          Others leave their life behind and begin a new one.

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