Emirates, the world's biggest long-haul airline, has placed a firm order for five Boeing 777 freighters valued at more than $1.7 billion at list prices, expanding its fleet as it bets on continued growth of air cargo demand.
The first two 777-200LR freighter aircraft will be delivered in 2024 and the remaining three in 2025, Emirates said on Tuesday.
“This order reflects Emirates’ confidence in air freight demand and overall aviation sector growth,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and group, said.
“Emirates is investing in new freighters so that we can continue to serve customer demand with the latest fuel-efficient aircraft.”
Air cargo was a rare bright spot for airlines during the travel-starved years of the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting many to convert older passenger jets to freighters and to invest in new cargo planes.
Strong e-commerce demand and the slower return of passenger flights with cargo belly capacity drove airlines to snap up freighters.
This agreement takes Emirates' total order book to 200 wide-body aircraft. The airline's freight arm Emirates SkyCargo currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of 11 B777 freighters.
This is addition to the belly-hold cargo capacity on its fleet of wide-body Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 passenger aircraft.
“The expansion of Emirates' fleet with these additional fuel-efficient 777 freighters will enable the airline to support its growing cargo market demand, transporting goods rapidly and efficiently from origin to destination in the Middle East and around the world,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The deal comes after Emirates ordered two new Boeing 777 freighters at the Dubai Airshow in November last year. These have already joined the Emirates fleet, the airline said on Tuesday.
Global air cargo demand softened in September, with volumes below the “exceptional performance” of 2021 as major economies contract and new export orders drop, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in its monthly report on Monday.