SYDNEY: Boeing said on Sunday (Sep 20) a customer had ordered two converted 737-800BCF freighters and that it had signed agreements to open additional cargo conversion lines in Guangzhou, China and Singapore to meet demand for express traffic and e-commerce.
The air freight market has outperformed the passenger market because of restrictions put in place to control the coronavirus pandemic that have severely limited passenger travel.
Boeing said the 737-800BCF converted freighter, based on the generation of the popular narrowbody made before the grounded 737 MAX, now had 134 orders and commitments including the purchase by the unidentified customer. To date, Boeing has delivered 36 of the freighters to more than 10 operators across four continents.
The airplane is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes and flying up to 3,750km.
The US manufacturer said the new conversion line at Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO) was scheduled to open in early 2021, making it the second 737-800BCF line for the operator.
"The addition of the new production line demonstrates our ability to quickly respond to market trends and requirements and is a testament to the skill and professionalism of the entire GAMECO-Boeing team," GAMECO General Manager Norbert Marx said in a statement.
Boeing said it would also add a second conversion line for its widebody converted freighter, the 767-300BCF, at Singapore Technologies Engineering's facility in Singapore. The second line is scheduled to open later this year.
The International Air Transport Association reported a 13.5 per cent fall in freight in July, compared with a 79.8 per cent decline in passenger travel.