Freighter conversion will absorb some excess widebody supply – but not all

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By Judson Rollins


June 17, 2021, © Leeham News: A key question hanging over the used widebody market is what percentage of available aircraft could be converted into freighters.

Indeed, existing passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion providers are ramping up capacity and new ones are coming online. However, much of the P2F capacity growth is focused on converting used 737s and A320-family aircraft.

Airbus and Boeing foresee a market for 1,500-1,600 conversions over the next 20 years. While Boeing doesn’t break out its forecast between single-aisle and widebody aircraft, Airbus believes 670 of these will be widebodies.

Conversion work at Israel's IAI on the first 777-300ER P2F. Source: IAI via Cargo Facts.

In this analysis, LNA explores the size of the market, key providers, conversion capacity, and likely buyers of converted aircraft.

  • Nearly 2,000 widebodies are in storage or coming off lease by 2030.
  • New-build freighters will go to more established operators, while P2Fs are preferred by operators wishing to minimize capital costs.
  • At current production rates, up to 400 widebodies could be converted by 2030.
  • Early-production 787s, A350s are less likely to be converted.

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