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Vio
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Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 1:55 pm

Hi,

So, just like the titles asks, will airlines that operate "passenger only" aircraft buy dedicated freighters? Of course, all airlines fly cargo in their passenger aircraft, but I'm referring to legacy carriers that don't have dedicated cargo aircraft in their fleet. KLM, Lufthansa, Catahy Pacific, Emirates and many others all operate freighters. What about Air Canada, Delta, American? United? Wouldn't that diversify their income in this "COVID-19" (and beyond) world? FedEx, UPS, DHL and a few others have a huge chunk of the market, but I'd like to see a 777F or 747F in Air Canada colors. Perhaps they can even convert some A380s...

I do believe AC had cargo dedicated planes at one point:
Image

Share your thoughts...

Regards,

Vio
Superior decisions reduce the need for superior skills.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:01 pm

Northwest, prior to the merger, had up to 16 747 freighters. Delta dropped the whole bunch of them shortly after the merger.
 
Ziyulu
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:02 pm

Didn't AA have a 747 freighter in the old days?
 
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Antaras
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:04 pm

Of course, those carriers will relise the significant of freighters these days.
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Boston92
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:09 pm

It would be an awful decision. The uptick in cargo demand is only temporary. Once the emergency portion of the pandemic comes to an end, and we have to deal with the effects, cargo too will have significantly less demand than normal.
 
usairways85
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:11 pm

Weren't passenger cargo units on the way out before Covid-19? The drastically reduced (basically 0) international passenger schedule and critical/immediate need of supplies has resulted in the rise of cargo traffic and cargo flights on pax jets. That said, I do not think this is a long term 5-10 year strategic business venture. It's a 6,12, maybe 18 month need as pax flights increase even by a small percentage over that time.
 
TW870
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:11 pm

I would say it is highly unlikely.

The cargo market only looks good right now because capacity is way down due to the elimination of the vast majority of passenger flying. The economy is in crisis overall, though, and there would be no reason to begin a multi-year freighter acquisition project that would be sustainable only if the drop in passenger flying remains. Eventually the virus will recede and the passenger capacity will return, which will then flood the cargo market with capacity.

Prior to the 1980s, most of the legacy airlines did operate pure freighters. But that was in an era when the air cargo market was far less mature and when there were not large, network cargo airlines such as FedEx and UPS. There certainly were cargo airlines - here in the U.S. we had Seaboard World, Slick, and Flying Tigers among many others - but they were much smaller, niche operations. That left room for AA and PA to run 747 freighters, UA to run DC-8s, TW to run 707s, etc., and for Northwest to build a very large transpacific 747F schedule. But that day has really gone given how mature the cargo market is.

You may see some lease activity during the immediate COVID crisis, where legacy passenger airlines might pick up a few freighters on an emergency basis, but even that is highly unlikely as they will tend to operate passenger aircraft on freight only flights as a cheaper and easier solution.
 
jetwet1
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:12 pm

As above, there is no reason to spend huge amounts of money for what is in reality a short term issue.
 
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Spacepope
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:18 pm

Wishful thinking to be sure.

The issue is with the need for cargo capacity as it is, actually getting your hands on an existing freighter is next to impossible. Conversion houses are booked out for up to a year, and new production will take at least that long. So frankly, even if they wanted to, they couldn't.
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Boeing757100
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:24 pm

Hmm, good question. I believe yes and no. I guess airlines would order more cargo planes, cause no one wants to fly. But, it depends on the planes. I think they'll likely get the more modern planes, like the A300F, 747F, 757F, 767F, 777F, MD-11F, all of which were introduced just 30 years ago or later, rather than keep their DC-8s, DC-10s, 727s, A310s. I highly doubt they will do an A380, since it is huge, fuel thirsty, and a maintenence nightmare. We'll just wait and see......
 
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NameOmitted
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:30 pm

Modern passenger aircraft have a lot more cargo capacity then their predecessors. A 777 is effectively a direct replacement for a 747 combi.
 
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ER757
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 2:48 pm

Ziyulu wrote:
Didn't AA have a 747 freighter in the old days?

Yes they did indeed. And UA had a fleet of DC-8 freighters and ran a pretty extensive nightly schedule with ORD as the hub. They discontinued them around 1985 or so. They later had some DC-10 freighters for a very brief time in the late 80's for flights from the US to Asia
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 3:38 pm

ER757 wrote:
Yes they did indeed. And UA had a fleet of DC-8 freighters and ran a pretty extensive nightly schedule with ORD as the hub. They discontinued them around 1985 or so. They later had some DC-10 freighters for a very brief time in the late 80's for flights from the US to Asia


United's DC-10 freighter operation was from '97 to 2000 and unprofitable.
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Thu May 07, 2020 4:21 pm

I think people are underestimating the cargo need post COVID. The demand we are seeing now is certainly going to drop. But I think it’s going to remain fairly high.

It’s going to take a lot of airlines a long time to get back up to their previous schedules. That takes a lot of belly capacity out of the picture which only increases prices. We may not see a NW cargo type operation from the US3, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 767/777 sub fleet to supplement the belly cargo.

The other side is consumer buying is going to change. People are going to buy more online and a lot of that is going to fly. It helps the integrators more than the pure cargo airlines, but cargo is going to be up.
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Joelatbsl
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Mon May 11, 2020 12:42 am

This will have to come with some lag of course, but at least the integrators can snap up all the Boeing 757s and 767s that become available with the ongoing retirements at AA, AC, UA, DL etc. Always keep in mind that a few of them may be very old and could end up as parts only, but some of them will still have some life left in them, flying cargo around the globe. Similar things happened to many A300s and A310s once their PAX flying careers were over.
 
jetwet1
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Mon May 11, 2020 3:05 am

Boeing757100 wrote:
Hmm, good question. I believe yes and no. I guess airlines would order more cargo planes, cause no one wants to fly. But, it depends on the planes. I think they'll likely get the more modern planes, like the A300F, 747F, 757F, 767F, 777F, MD-11F, all of which were introduced just 30 years ago or later, rather than keep their DC-8s, DC-10s, 727s, A310s. I highly doubt they will do an A380, since it is huge, fuel thirsty, and a maintenence nightmare. We'll just wait and see......


I'm actually semi surprised we haven't seen 346's being pulled from storage, from memory they can haul something like 30t of cargo in the holds. Certainly not a long term solution but with the semi recent retirements I would have thought they would be a quick and easy freight hauler.
 
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flee
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Mon May 11, 2020 6:06 am

The air cargo market has been declining the past few years - Covid-19 demand isn't new demand as the absence of scheduled pax flights meant that a lot of belly cargo capacity disappeared. As long as pax flights are suspended there will be demand for dedicated air cargo services but once pax flights restart, belly cargo space will return and demand for freighters will begin to decline. Furthermore, economies have slowed down to a near halt - so as economic activity declines, demand for cargo services will also decline.

What airlines are currently doing is to use pax aircraft that would otherwise be on the ground to run 100% cargo flights - with freight rates sky high now, the economics of running such services is still acceptable. However, to buy or lease a freighter for this purpose may not be economic.
 
Moosefire
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Mon May 11, 2020 6:34 am

This is a short term high season based on capacity reductions and supply chain disruptions. The backlog is already beginning to ebb, and the rush of every airline desperate for a bit of revenue is beginning to suppress shipping rates with a flood of capacity.

Think of the pax cargo operations this way... Southwest previously was unable to run cargo ops due to restrictions in S1 of their pilot contract. They’ve now expressed a desire to start a cargo operation and have requested relief from the pilot group. Since they already need to serve market for their passenger operation, if they undercut say United’s cargo rates they will still lose money on their flying but now it’s a bit less.

Then Spirit says “man, we can get in on this fattened calf, we just need to undercut southwest a bit”... they’ll still lose money, but it’s worth it (and the cycle repeats itself). They don’t need to make money, they’re just aiming to lose less.

This is what’s happening today... and unfortunately all of these carriers are under cutting the existing freight operators (all the while taking government subsidies to do it).
MD-11F/C-17A Pilot
 
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NWAROOSTER
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Re: Will pax only airlines buy more cargo aircraft?

Wed May 27, 2020 2:15 am

Delta Air Lines is the only U S airline that has any significant number of active 757s as both Delta and Northwest Airlines bought very late build 757s. Delta also has about sixteen 757-351s which are late builds and very profitable if flown close to full. I think when Delta finally decids to retire the 757 it will be when they need a major check and the Airbus A321 NEO is being built and has a comparable range to the 757. The 757 was built as a long range aircraft well before ETOPS was in existence. Converting more 757s to freighters probably will not happen as they are getting a little long in the tooth. Delta does operate the last 757 built and a few that were built immediately before hand. :old:
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