Airbus to Offer Freighter Version of A350 as Pandemic Boosts Air Cargo Market

Even as the competition hots up, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said last week the company was planning to possibly offer a freighter version of the 777X soon.

After years of complaints that the freighter market was underserved by Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer has launched its new freighter jet based on Airbus A350.

The company said its board has backed the plans for a new freighter version of its A350 passenger jet and the product line will include this freighter.

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An Airbus A380-841 airplane of Singapore Airlines takes-off from Zurich airport Reuters

A350 Freighter Derivative

"We are enhancing our product line with an A350 freighter derivative, responding to customer feedback for increased competition and efficiency in this market segment," Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said, Reuters reported.

With this move, Airbus is expected to challenge rival Boeing's dominance of the air cargo market, which is showing signs of strong revival.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Eight Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets have been grounded Wikimedia Commons

The plan to launch a freighter that would offer tough competition to Boeing was reported earlier in March. The aircraft maker chose the lightweight A350 wide-bodied jet for the freighter version.

Even as the competition hots up, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said last week the leading aircraft maker was planning to possibly arrive at a freighter version of the 777X in the near term.

Pandemic and Air Cargo

Though the coronavirus pandemic has affected airline companies and aircraft manufacturers negatively, on the brighter side, demand for cargo aircraft has increased of late.

Earlier this month, Airbus said it delivered the first A350 widebody jet from its Tianjin final assembly line to China Eastern Airlines, further bolstering its presence in China.

China Focus

With China being one of the world's biggest market for new planes, Airbus, the European aircraft maker, has been aggressively pushing its presence and sales in the country. Airbus delivered 99 planes to China last year despite the global pandemic that depressed plane sales.

Reuters reported last week that Airbus wants to deliver as many as a total five A350s from Tianjin this year. Airbus has also been gaining market share in China, where the domestic travel market recovered much before everywhere else in the world.

On the other hand, Boeing waited until December 2018 to open its first completion plant in China for the 737 MAX. However, the model was grounded three months later over safety concerns.

Related topics : Coronavirus