Airbus Takes On Boeing With The A350 Freighter

Airbus has decided to take on Boeing by launching a new product today. While freight has always been on the back burner for the European manufacturer, this is all now set to change as it today launched the A350F during its second half result presentation.

Airbus A350-1000, Value, 2021
Airbus has launched a freight version of the A350. Photo: Airbus

Airbus has been lagging behind Boeing when it comes to the freight market. While it has offered a handful of aircraft dedicated to freight, it hasn’t sold a freighter since 2015. Airbus is hoping to change this with the launch of the cargo version of the A350 announced today.

Upsetting the status quo

For some months now, we’ve heard a trickle of rumors about a possible Airbus A350 freighter. It seems that they were on the Money. It appears that Airbus is aiming to deliver the first of the type in 2025, meaning that we still have some time to go before we see such an aircraft grace the skies. Beyond receiving board approval to launch the aircraft, details about the plane remain few and far between.

Commenting on the aircraft, Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said,

“Furthermore and following Board approval, we are enhancing our product line with an A350 freighter derivative, responding to customer feedback for increased competition and efficiency in this market segment.”

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More successful than the A380?

Airbus had intended to offer a freighter version of its giant A380 aircraft. The variant would have been able to transport 150 tonnes over a range of 5,600 nautical miles (10,400 km). Except for the single An-225 built, it would’ve had the highest capacity of any freighter.

UPS A380
The A380 freighter never took off. Photo: Simple Flying

The aircraft wasn’t a failure straight away. Four customers placed orders for the A380F. Emirates wanted two, and International Lease Finance Corporation eyed five. Meanwhile, cargo giants UPS and FedEx signed up for ten jets each. Airbus never even got around to building a test aircraft, with the orders all ending up canceled.

Qatar’s previous interest

Qatar had said previously that it wanted to be the launch customer for a freight version of the A350. In May, the Group’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, told the Simple Flying Future Flying webinar,

“Definitely, we will be at the front of the queue. We will be soon replacing our current fleet of freighters, and we would want to replace it with the best freighter that is available. We would be very happy to be the launch customer of the new variant…”

Airbus A350-1000, Value, 2021
Qatar Airways had previously said it wanted to be the type’s launch customer. Photo: Airbus

However, the major Airbus customer is currently embroiled in a spat with the European planemaker. Qatar Airways is not now taking delivery of any new Airbus A350 aircraft. It says it has seen a faster than expected degradation of the surfaces underneath the paint job on some aircraft. The issue was first discovered when a Qatar A350 flew to Dublin to get a special paint job.

Are you excited to see Airbus launching a freight version of the A350? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!


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