Turkish Cargo grows its freighter fleet

The Turkish carrier has placed an order for four additional Boeing 777 freighters to further strengthen the airline’s position in the global air cargo market. Once they are delivered, the cargo arm of Turkish Airlines will operate a total of twelve B777 freighter aircraft. The capacity increase will help the airline to meet the growing market demand for freight services.

Four more. TK Cargo offers the market additional capacity once Boeing has delivered the new Triple Seven freighter aircraft  –  credit: Boeing Company

Aerospace giant, Boeing, and Turkish Airlines announced the order simultaneously last Tuesday (02JUL24), thus illustrating their long-standing industrial collaboration. Once operational, the aircraft will up the capacity that Turkish Cargo can offer its customers, by more than 400 tons. The freighters will also strengthen the role of Türkiye and the entire region in the transit of air freight shipments on sectors between the Far East and Europe, and additionally enhance traffic flows to and from the region, including the Caspian states and the Gulf area, via Turkish Cargo’s hub in Istanbul. “This new investment in expanding our cargo fleet underscores our commitment to meeting the growing global demand for air freight services,” stated Turkish Airlines Chief Cargo Officer, Ali Türk.

Optimizing the performance
“The addition of these Boeing 777 freighters will not only enhance our operational capabilities, but also serve as another step in our strategic vision to reach the top of the air cargo sector worldwide while maintaining our leading position with our unparalleled service and efficiency for our customers across the globe,” enthused the executive. He added that the new freighter aircraft will enable Turkish Airlines to optimize its cargo operations, reduce costs and deliver goods to destinations worldwide on time.

“We are proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Turkish Airlines and support its expansion of cargo operations with the addition of Boeing 777 freighters,” said Paul Righi, Vice President of Boeing Commercial Sales for Eurasia. “The 777 freighter’s payload capacity, range and flexibility will enable Turkish Airlines to deliver exceptional customer service while maximizing operational efficiency.”

However, neither Boeing nor Turkish mention a date for the delivery of the aircraft in their releases.

Most capable twin engine freighter aircraft
For decades, Boeing has built up a virtual monopoly in the construction of commercial freighter aircraft such as the MD-11F acquired from McDonnell Douglas, the various variants of the B747F model series and, most recently, the B777F. So, no wonder that the U.S. manufacturer’s global market share for freighters has reached nearly 90%, including passenger-to-freighter conversions, which have become an important pillar of Boeing’s business, as have the after-sales supplies with components and spare parts. It is therefore not surprising that airlines such as Turkish choose from Boeing’s shelf when ordering new cargo aircraft, because the Boeing 777F is currently the world’s most capable twin-engine freighter aircraft. It offers a maximum payload capacity of 102 metric tons and a range of 9,200 kilometers when fully loaded. Including the four B777 freighters ordered by Turkish, 323 of Boeing’s best-selling freighter aircraft have so far been purchased by at least fifteen customers, and of those, 266 aircraft have been delivered to those airlines, to date.

With over 265 deliveries, the 777 freighter is Boeing’s best-selling freighter airplane of all time.

From freighter monopoly to duopoly?
Meanwhile Airbus has heard the wake-up call and intends to challenge its U.S. rival by offering the market a freighter variant of its A350 passenger version. According to the fact sheet, it can carry 109 tons non-stop over a distance of 8,700 km. At least in terms of payload, it is superior to the B777F. This also applies to fuel burn, which the manufacturer claims is 20% lower than that of its Boeing competitor. In addition to performance, comparatively low greenhouse gas emissions play an increasingly important role in airlines’ fleet renewal decisions. After various delays caused by supply shortages, the A350F is due to be delivered to the launch customer in 2026. Presumably Singapore Airlines will be the first operator.

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