UPS and Boeing today announced that the US-based integrator has ordered 14 new B747-8 Freighters, worth US$5.3 billion at list prices, to meet increased demand for the company’s express services. The agreement also includes an option to purchase an additional 14 aircraft.
UPS said the B747-8s will enable it to begin a cascade of aircraft route reassignments that will add significant air capacity to the company’s busiest trade lanes, “thereby optimising global air network capacity well beyond the impact of adding new cargo jets.”
The 14 aircraft are to be delivered between 2017 and 2020 and join the company’s existing operating fleet of more than 500 aircraft. The order comes at a significant point for Boeing as it struggles with flagging interest in the newbuild freighter and questions around whether to close the massive freighter’s production line.
“UPS is making several strategic capital investments for increased global operating capacity,” said David Abney, UPS chairman and CEO. “These investments will help enable customers to expand their presence in new and existing markets while fueling our profitable growth and attainment of UPS’s long term business objectives.”
In addition, the B747-8 offers training and operating efficiencies to UPS as pilots of the company’s existing B747-400 fleet will enjoy a common equipment rating, allowing them to fly both aircraft types. Further, UPS will realise greater economies of scale in maintenance and ground handling by operating the -8 aircraft.
The 747-8 freighters carry 34 ULDs on its main deck and 14 in its lower compartments. The -8 has a cargo capacity of 140 tonnes, or approximately 30,000 packages and a range of 4,340 nautical miles. With its iconic nose door, the airplane has 16 per cent more revenue cargo volume than the B747-400F. The aircraft also reduces the noise footprint around an airport by 30 per cent compared to its predecessor.
“We benefit from the youngest fleet in the industry and we are continuously investing for both operating safety and efficiency,” said Brendan Canavan, UPS Airlines president. “This investment supports our customers’ future capacity needs while also reducing fuel use and emissions, which enhances UPS Airlines’ position as an industry leader in sustainability.”