Aircraft manufacturer Boeing BA is experiencing an uplift in business to convert former passenger planes for all-cargo operations.
"Strong demand is driven by customers transitioning to newer-generation freighters and choosing a Boeing converted freighter (BCF) as a cost-efficient alternative that can be modified with approximately a 90-day turnaround time, regardless of the conversion facility," spokeswoman Laura Fenton told American Shipper.
Sustained e-commerce growth and an abundance of affordable aircraft to convert to freighters are driving this demand, she added.
German courier DHL Express DPSGY recently contracted with Boeing to convert four 767-300 passenger planes to freighter operations. The express carrier said conversions are part of an effort to modernize its long-haul intercontinental aircraft fleet.
"We have operated the 767-300F model across our global fleet for many years and look forward to continue investing in the platform by adding more 767-300BCFs," said Geoff Kehr, DHL's senior vice president of global air fleet management, in a statement.
The website Plane Spotter says DHL Express currently operates a fleet of 34 767-300 freighters.
According to Boeing, the 767-300BCF has the same cargo capacity as the purpose-built 767-300 freighter, with about a 50-ton payload and a 3,000-nautical-mile flight range.
In another recent announcement, Boeing said it will convert two 737-800 passenger planes to cargo operations for Aircraft Finance Germany (AFG), an aircraft brokerage firm.
The 737-800 cargo plane can carry up to 24 tons of freight per payload and with a 2,000-nautical-mile flight range is best suited for regional express services, Boeing said.
Boeing delivered its first 737-800BCF in 2018 and now has 10 airline customers that utilize the cargo aircraft. The company said it has ramped up production of 737-800BCFs with 132 aircraft orders. So far, Boeing has delivered 34 of the converted planes.
Boeing did not disclose the financial terms of the aircraft conversions for DHL and AGF.
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