The complex process of converting passenger airliners to freighters

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.


The market

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.

Boeing 7772
Boeing 777-200LR N705DN arriving for storage at Fort Worth-Alliance Airport in Texas on February 10, 2022. It was one of ten former Delta Air Lines examples obtained by US startup Mammoth Freighters for its conversion programme
AirTeamImages-Jason Chen

 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.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below