PUBLISHER: The Load Star (www.theloadstar.com)
Boeing wants to turn more used passenger planes into freighters, but supply chain issues could impede those ambitions.
Over the course of the pandemic Boeing has drastically ramped up its freighter conversion programme. Since March 2020 the number of conversion lines it is running globally has jumped from 12 to 22. The majority – 17 of them – are turning out 737 cargo planes, while the other five are working on 767s.
Freighter conversion providers have been running flat out, with bookings extending as far ahead as two years, but this is still not enough to meet the clamour for cargo planes. Passenger traffic has been slower than anticipated to recover, leaving international belly capacity well below pre-Covid levels, particularly on the longhaul sectors from Asia to Europe and the Americas. Meanwhile, e-commerce is fuelling rampant demand for narrowbody freighters.
Boeing wants to expand its conversion capacity further, said Ted Colbert, the head of the company’s global services division, in an interview with Bloomberg at the Singapore Airshow this week. He pointed to Asia, where he sees strong demand.