Boeing Co. may partner with specialists including Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Mammoth Freighters to convert its passenger jets for cargo use to keep up with soaring demand for those planes.
The planemaker plans to follow an asset-light model for freighter conversion programs and doesn’t plan to do the program on its own, Ted Colbert, president and chief executive of Boeing Global Services, said on the sidelines of a press conference in Dubai.
Air freight has been a rare bright spot for global aviation as online purchases soar and shipping rates rise. With airlines looking to retire older aircraft and replace them with newer, more fuel efficient models, freighter conversions could give older aircraft a new lease of life.
Boeing has forecast demand for 2,610 wide-body freighters by 2040, with 1,720 of them being conversions from older passenger aircraft, and the rest new production. While the company currently builds a freighter version of the 777 from new, that model is based on the smaller 777-200 model.
Earlier this year, IAI said it had begun work on the conversion of its first 777-300ER.