Emirates buys 777 cargo planes in deal with Boeing

Two deals on Tuesday will add to the global supply of large cargo planes as airlines continue to invest in fleets to meet air travel growth forecasts.

Emirates, the fourth largest cargo airline by volume, announced it will expand its own freighter fleet by purchasing five 777 Freighters from Boeing (NYSE: BA).

The deal has a list price of more than $1.7 billion, but Emirates is expected to receive a discount for multiple unit purchases. A Boeing official said the planes would be delivered in 2024 and 2025.

The new aircraft will join the 11,777 freighters already operated by Emirates SkyCargo, the airline’s all-cargo division, bringing the fleet to 16 aircraft. At last November’s Dubai Airshow, Emirates announced a US$1 billion investment to expand its air cargo capacity, including two new 777 Freighters joining Emirates’ fleet this year.

“This order reflects Emirates’ confidence in air cargo demand and the growth of the aviation sector as a whole,” Emirates Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.

Emirates also operates nearly 140 passenger variants of the 777. Emirates SkyCargo manages all cargo carried on the passenger network.

Elbe Flugzeugwerke, an Airbus joint venture specializing in converting used passenger aircraft into dedicated cargo aircraft, announced that Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corp. (Ameco), a major provider of aircraft maintenance and total services in China, will carry out modification work for the A330 aircraft.

The conversions will be carried out at Ameco’s facilities in Chengdu, China, with the first introduction of an A330 slated for next year.

EFW holds certificates to redesign both the A330-200 and A330-300 for cargo. The A330-300 can carry 69 tonnes, 2 tonnes more than the A330-200.

EFW recently partnered with Turkish Technic for A330 conversions as part of a strategic plan to expand production facilities around the world to meet demand for passenger to cargo aircraft conversions. EFW also produces converted A320/A321 Freighters.

Conversion activity has been extremely brisk over the past three years, but the cargo market is slowing amid recessionary conditions in the global economy. The number of conversions is expected to slow through mid-decade, but still be above recent historical averages.

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