Impact of Russian Airspace Closure for mid-European freight airlines

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

May 12, 2022, © Leeham News: Last week, we looked at what the closure of Russian airspace would mean for a mid-European airline that flies to Asia destinations like Japan, Korea, or Mainland China.

Air France now flies the routes from East Asia south of Russian airspace instead of over Siberia. The route is longer which increases the operating costs, but with the examples Boeing 777-300ER, there are no restrictions on passenger load factors, and most times, the cargo space can be loaded to the volume limit.

For a freight airline flying similar routes, the added distance impacts payload, as freighters have about 2,000nm less range than their passenger siblings. We check the operating cost and payload impact for mid-European freighter airlines flying from Far-East freighter hubs to West Europe.

Summary

  • A freighter airline takes a heavier hit from Russian airspace closure.
  • As the extra distance eats into the possible payload, the operating cost per tonne for hubs like Shanghai, Seoul, and Taipei increases more than for the airline’s passenger service.

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An A330neo freighter, should it happen?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

April 7, 2022, © Leeham News: Last week, we started a discussion on what should be Airbus’ response to a 787 freighter. We have seen in a series of articles that the 787 freighter would beat the present A330 freighter, and the question is, will Airbus leave this segment to Boeing, or will it respond?

We look at what’s involved for Airbus to upgrade the present A330-200F to a neo freighter and what performance it would have compared to a 787 freighter.

Summary

  • An upgrade of Airbus’ present A330-200F freighter to a neo variant based on the longer, more capable A330-900 would be a modest project for Airbus. All the special bits needed were developed for the A330-200F.
  • The resulting A330-900F would be a competitive freighter, and as all needed parts are in serial production today, it could hit the market before a Boeing 787 freighter.

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A Boeing 787 Freighter, Airbus response

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

March. 31, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week’s article showed that a Boeing 787 freighter based on the -9 variant would be a suitable replacement for the aging 767-300F.

Should Boeing proceed with the aircraft, expect Airbus to launch a competing airplane, it not launch it before the American OEM.

The A330-200F recorded 38 sales as a factory freighter, a disappointing tally. Which aircraft variant could Airbus use as a baseline to develop a more successful 787F competitor?

Summary
  • A nuanced view on 767-300F and A330-200F factory sales;
  • Need for suitable older-generation aircraft replacement;
  • Limitations of A330 P2Fs;
  • A potential candidate.

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A Boeing 787 freighter, which model and how good? Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

March 24, 2022, © Leeham News: Last week, we discussed the creation of a Boeing 787 freighter. It shall replace the Boeing 767-300F, which is running into emission rule problems in 2027.

After looking at what 787 variant makes for the best freighter, we now compare the economics of the 787, 767-300F, and A330-200F freighters.

Figure 1. The 767-300F freighter (top) and its possible replacements: 787-8F (middle) and 787-9F (bottom). Source: Leeham Co.

Summary
  • When a Boeing 787 freighter arrives at the decade’s end, its economics will change the freighter market’s dynamics.

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A Boeing 787 freighter, which variant and how good?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

March 17, 2022, © Leeham News: Monday, we started a series of articles discussing a possible Boeing 787 freighter. It shall replace the Boeing 767 freighter, one of Boeing’s most-produced models, with over 200 factory freighters delivered.

We use our Airliner Performance Model to understand which 787 variant would be most suitable as a base for a freighter and what performance it would have.

Figure 1. Would a 767-300F replacement (top) be a 787-8F (middle) or 787-9F (bottom)? Source: Leeham Co.

Summary
  • Boeing can build a very competitive freighter on the 787 base.
  • We analyze which of the different 787 models is the most suitable and predict payload, range, and economics.

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The new Boeing freighter, 777-8F, versus Airbus’ A350F, Part 3

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 16, 2022, © Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the operating economics of the Boeing 777-8F and Airbus A350F. Both freighters are new launches over the last 6 months with planned service entry 2025 (A350F) and 2027 (777-8F).

We flew the freighters with the help of our Aircraft Performance Model over a typical freight trunk route from Shanghai to Anchorage at a full load and compared their economics with the present freighter in this class, the Boeing 777F. Readers demanded we fly them with a part load and on shorter routes, so here we go.

Summary
  • When we vary the payload and the route length, the economic differences between the freighters stay roughly the same.

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The new Boeing freighter, 777-8F, versus Airbus’ A350F, Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 10, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing introduced the freighter version of the 777X last week, and we made a first article about how it stacks up against Airbus’ new freighter, the A350F. The Boeing freighter will be the market’s largest freighter when it enters the market in 2027, two years after the A350F.

We now use our performance model to fly the new freighters against the present Boeing 777 freighter, the 777F, to look at their operating economics.

Summary
  • Both new freighters handsomely beat the 777F on operating economics.
  • The race is much tighter between the 777-8F and A350F.

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The new Boeing freighter, 777-8F, versus Airbus’ A350F

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 3, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing launched the new large freighter, 777-8F, Monday with an order for 34 and options for 16 from Qatar Airways.

We made a comparison based on projected data in August 2021 of the 777-XF versus an A350 freighter, but now we have final data for both. We can now compare the 777-8F from Boeing with the A350F from Airbus. We also compare these with the present Boeing freighter, 777F.

The new freighters represent the largest freighters that will be in the market at the end of the decade, as Boeing’s 747-8F ends its production after the summer. The A350F starts deliveries during 2025, and the 777-8F joins in 2027.

We start with comparing freight capabilities, and then we fly them on a typical freight route, using our aircraft performance model.

Image: Boeing.

Summary
  • The 777-8F has the largest volume and highest payload capability, making it the market’s largest freighter at the end of the decade.
  • But despite the highest takeoff weight, it has the shortest range of the compared freighters.

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Air freight growth: one-hit wonder or long-term trend?

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By Judson Rollins

Introduction

January 13, 2022, © Leeham News: COVID-19 has upended the freight world, with air delivery now becoming relatively economical versus the high premium they previously commanded over sea freight. While air freight yields on most trade lanes are 2-3x their pre-pandemic levels, sea freight yields are 8-10x their 2019 levels in lanes like Asia to North America and Asia to Europe.

Sea freight schedule reliability has fallen sharply over the past 18 months driven by a spectrum of port, labor, and container availability issues. Shippers are increasingly frustrated by the large and growing number of “blank sailings,” the industry’s term for canceled departures.

To offer customers backup options – and increase their value capture – ocean freight carriers are starting to buy their own aircraft. Maersk announced its purchase of two Boeing 777Fs in November, while CMA CGM Group said in December that it would order four Airbus A350Fs to complement its existing fleet of five Airbus A330Fs.

As the COVID crisis extends into its third year, will air freight demand prove sustainable at today’s levels? To what extent will capacity increase to match?

Summary
  • Sea freight capacity will remain tight for the foreseeable future.
  • New-build freighter availability is limited at present.
  • Today’s air freight demand spike is unlikely to last beyond mid-decade.

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Boeing lands a series of passenger and freighter orders at Dubai

By Judson Rollins

Introduction

November 16, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing captured a handful of orders and a further expansion into freighter conversion at this week’s Dubai Air Show.

The largest of these, announced Tuesday, is for 72 737 MAXes destined for Indian startup Akasa Air. These will include a mix of 737-8s and 737-8-200s. Akasa plans to offer commercial flights starting next summer.

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