By Lei Yan
Boeing to expand converted cargo production to China
On September 28, the opening day of the China International Air Show, Boeing announced its intention to open two new Boeing 767-300BCF conversion lines in cooperation with Guangzhou Aircraft Manufacturing and Engineering Company (GAMECO), a joint venture between China Southern Airlines and Hutchison Whampoa.
“It has been mutually beneficial to continue to develop our relationship with GAMECO to provide additional conversion capacity for 767-300BCF while supporting growth in the region,” said Peter Gao, Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing of Boeing for China.
Earlier this year, GAMECO announced that it will add a new Boeing 737-800BCF conversion line, adding it to the two existing conversion lines with the Guangzhou-based company. Along with GAMECO, HAECO Shandong and Boeing Shanghai are the only two other manufacturers to have the capacity to convert 737-800s. The three competitors are located in China, making the country a strategic point in Boeing’s converted cargo operations. By adding the two new Boeing 767-300BCF conversion lines, GAMECO will be the only company to have both 737 and 767 freighter conversion lines, thus demonstrating Boeing’s ambition and commitments in the Chinese market.
During the conference, Boeing also shared the company’s projections for the future of the cargo freight market in Asia.
The automaker said it believed a total of 1,720 new freighters would be needed to support rapid growth by 2040, of which 520 would be wide-body freighters such as the Boeing 767-300BCF.
The aircraft has significant advantages over its competitors in terms of cost. It has a large number of retired Boeing 767-300 passengers to convert, which would offer a lower purchase cost than a brand new freighter of similar capacity. Plus, pilots are already familiar with the aircraft, which would reduce operating and crew training costs for airlines that previously operated 767s.
Over the past decade, Asia – and especially China – has gained ground in the air cargo market. Fueled by the explosion in online shopping, domestic parcel transport has grown exponentially. As international passenger traffic continues to hover at a low level due to the pandemic, long-haul wide-body freighters have been able to take more cargo than could initially fit in the aircraft’s hold. of passengers.
Compared to the United States, which has an extensive air freight network operated by mega-shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx, China still has significant growth potential in air freight. The country is building its first air cargo hub in E’zhou, China, a small town in the center of the country. The airport will serve as the central airport for SF Airlines, which is the largest cargo carrier in China. The company is also the sole operator of Boeing 767-300BCF in mainland China. More and more freight airlines are taking off from China and Southeast Asian countries to meet the growing demand for e-commerce orders. As countries in the region continue to seek more efficient transportation networks, freighters such as the Boeing 767-300BCF will play a critical role in developing the shipping economy.
Boeing is still suffering from the Boeing 737 MAX replica on the ground in China, and this new strategic partnership to expand Boeing’s presence in the future growth of the Chinese economy could be the dawn of another golden age for Boeing in China.