Some considerations support buying new aircraft, while other ones are more in favour of the P2F route. We might see Cargolux taking a bit of both in the end.
Here is a quote supporting the idea of buying new aircraft:
Mr Forson adds that governments’ focus on emissions could also hinder aircraft financing – especially with few freighter programmes launching.
About the prospective new freighter programmes:
“At this point, the latest technology is the 747-8F, that’s from 10 years ago. There are no developments, going forward.”
Boeing’s mooted plans for a 777X freighter and Airbus’s for an A350 are not concrete, he notes.
On the other hand, he makes it clear that he wants to preserve cash as mush as possible in the view that its business is highly cyclical and that he his not expecting any government support in a worst case scenario (like the passenger airlines have benefited):
“It’s all relative, the money,” laughs CEO Richard Forson. “It’s one year (2020) when we’ve made a significant profit. But this is one of the most capital-intensive industries – that money is only four aircraft.
“And things have changed now. In the past, we had Eximbank support for buying aircraft.”
“I need to build up the resilience of the organisation. I want to keep as much cash as I can. You never know when you are going to need it.”
Then he carries on justifying why he needs to build up so much resilience and he is stating (in the second link) that he is clearly looking at a P2F option:
"The specific one we are looking very closely at is the conversion of the 777-300ER into a freigher"
He is balancing this by saying that he would also look at both the 777XF and the A350F if they would ever be launched.
All in all, going forward we could see Cargolux investing in a core fleet of new built freighters complimented with a fleet of P2F aircraft which would bring some flexibility in their supply of capacity. If this would be the case, considering that the 773ER is the only P2F candidate for Cargolux, the 777XF could have an edge as a new built thanks to its commonality of the 77W. In other interviews Forson explained how much he valued their homogeneous fleet of 747s. He is reluctant to add complexity in its fleet (by having more than one type) but he understands that it will be unavoidable in the future (when he will have a mixed fleet of 747 and twin-engine freighters).