More airliners are starting second lives as freighters in response to increased demand for cargo aircraft. What aircraft are being repurposed and who is converting them? Mark Broadbent reports
Air cargo was growing before COVID-19 struck, but urgent needs for medical supplies globally due to the pandemic and then surging e-commerce demand during the worldwide lockdowns took it to a whole new level.
In January 2022, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that full-year air cargo demand (measured by cargo tonne/kilometres) was up 18.7% in 2021 compared to 2020 – the secondbiggest annual improvement since the agency started monitoring cargo performance in 1990. Released in April 2022, IATA’s latest air cargo market figures revealed that global demand grew by 2.9% and capacity by 12.5% year-on-year.
Although Airbus and Boeing have both launched new production freighters, the A350F and 777-8F (see Cargo contest, Aviation News, April 2022), passenger-tofreighter or P2F conversions provide a far better indicator of the cargo upswing.