Airbus has been studying the possibility of launching a cargo exclusive variant of the A350 model, its most modern widebody jet, Reuters told.
According to the news agency, the aircraft would be a response to the increased demand for air cargo caused by the growth of e-commerce amid the pandemic of COVID-19.
It would also be a way of compensating for the slowdown in the market for long-distance jets, caused by the same reason. Due to the reduction in passenger demand, air traffic fell sharply, reducing the volume of cargo carried in the aircraft’s holds.
As a result, dedicated cargo aircraft have been in immense demand and even Antonov turboprop aircraft have started to fly frequently in markets such as Europe.
However, launching an A350 freighter is not a simple task. Although the aircraft can offer a very large load capacity, it is a project that uses a large number of parts in composite material, which is difficult to handle.
Boeing has taken advantage of the growth of the cargo market to deliver the 767-300F, 777F and even the latest 747-8F models. Airbus, on the other hand, offers the A330F as well as a widebody twin engine conversion program.
The project comes up against the high cost, estimated at about $2-3 billion, says Reuters. Orders for at least 50 jets would be needed to compensate for the development of the A350 freighter.
In 2020, Airbus delivered 59 units of the A350, but lost 11 orders during the year.