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Freighter fantastic

Turkish Cargo has been shifting freight around the world for almost two decades, and now, with the arrival of its new 777 Freighters, it marks a significant milestone. Keith Mwanalushi reports

An air carrier’s choice of aircraft would normally be guided by the utilisation anticipated, the load factors expected, its environmental credentials and forward views on fuel costs.

In terms of freighters – and largely due to their low acquisition costs – they are traditionally converted after a long career in the passenger market. However, the gains derived from new generation freighters, their operating efficiencies and cost reducing technologies, have been enough to sway some operators, such as Turkish Cargo, into acquiring straight off the production line freighters.

To service the ever-growing demand from its worldwide market, Turkish Cargo is expanding its fleet with the recent addition of new Boeing 777Fs. They are being deployed alongside a fleet of A330-200Fs, A310-300Fs, an A300-600F and a couple of 747-400Fs.

In December last year, the first 777F arrived in Istanbul, and this was shortly followed by a second aircraft. M. İlker Aycı, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines said on receiving the first aircraft that the new deliveries were a milestone event in the airline’s cargo business.

"As a prominent sub-brand of Turkish Airlines, Turkish Cargo increased its freighter destinations served from 55 to 73 from the beginning of 2017, reaching approximately one million tons of cargo. This represents a 29% increase compared to the same period in the previous year,” he reported.

Aycı sees those figures as a remarkable success.

Passenger aircraft and dedicated freighters both carry air cargo. Lower-hold cargo capacity on passenger flights has been expanding as airlines deploy new jetliners with very good cargo capability, such as the 777-300ER. However, as Boeing has stated in its Commercial Market Outlook for 2017 to 2036, dedicated freight services offer shippers a combination of reliability, predictability, and control over timing and routing that is often superior to that of passenger operators. As a result, freighters are expected to continue carrying more than half of global air cargo to satisfy the demanding requirements of that market.

Boeing predicts that the replacement of ageing aircraft, plus the industry’s growth requirements, will create a demand for 2,480 freighter deliveries over the next 20 years. Of these, 1,560 will be passenger aircraft conversions. The remaining 920 planes, valued at $260 billion, will be new. The overall freighter fleet will increase by more than half – from 1,810 aircraft in 2016 to 3,030 by 2036.

Turkish Cargo is seeing demand requirements in that market. “We’re sure that this significant delivery will bring great value to our rapidly growing cargo operations and will also enable our sub-brand to further compete, expand and reach new short and long-range destinations from our hub in Istanbul,” Aycı stated.

“We are honoured to deliver the 777F to Turkish Airlines,” added Marty Bentrott, Senior Vice President of Sales, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Central Asia and Africa, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This aircraft’s range capability, combined with its enhanced cargo capacity, makes it a perfect airplane for Turkish Airlines to continue to profitably grow its global cargo service.”

The 777F currently reigns supreme as the world's longest-range twin-engine freighter, it is based on the technologically advanced 777-200LR (Longer Range) passenger aircraft and can fly 4,900 nautical miles (9,070 kilometres) with a full payload of 102,000 kg.

The Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) for the 777F is 347,810kg. The aircraft’s general configuration accommodates 27 standard pallets on the main deck, ten pallets in the lower cargo hold and 17m³ (600ft³) of additional bulk cargo. >>


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