SYDNEY, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Boeing Co said on Sunday a customer had ordered two converted 737-800BCF freighters and that it had signed agreements to open additional cargo conversion lines in Guangzhou, China, and Singapore to meet demand for express traffic and e-commerce.
The air freight market has outperformed the passenger market because of restrictions put in place to control the coronavirus pandemic that have severely limited passenger travel.
Boeing said the 737-800BCF converted freighter, based on the generation of the popular narrowbody made before the grounded 737 MAX, now had 134 orders and commitments including the purchase by the unidentified customer. To date, Boeing has delivered 36 of the freighters to more than 10 operators across four continents.
The airplane is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes (52,800 pounds) and flying up to 2,000 nautical miles (3,750 km).
The U.S. manufacturer said the new conversion line at Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co Ltd (GAMECO) was scheduled to open in early 2021, making it the second 737-800BCF line for the operator.
“The addition of the new production line demonstrates our ability to quickly respond to market trends and requirements and is a testament to the skill and professionalism of the entire GAMECO-Boeing team,” GAMECO General Manager Norbert Marx said in a statement.
Boeing said it would also add a second conversion line for its widebody converted freighter, the 767-300BCF, at Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd’s facility in Singapore. The second line is scheduled to open later this year.
The International Air Transport Association reported a 13.5% fall in freight in July, compared with a 79.8% decline in passenger travel. (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Peter Cooney)