The freight markets are on fire right now

A top executive at Boeing has stressed the importance of cargo now playing a role in the aerospace industry, almost two years after the journey almost stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cargo ship markets are on fire right now. This is where we are seeing real growth,” Stan Deal, Executive Vice President of Boeing, told CNBC’s Dan Murphy at the Dubai Air Show on Sunday.

The company has announced plans to add three conversion lines for its 737-800BCF across North America and Europe. These are facilities that convert aircraft to cargo aircraft, and they will be located at KF Aerospace in Canada and London Gatwick.

The agreement̵[ads1]7;s comments come the day after Boeing said it was in advanced talks to sell a cargo version of the future 777X jet. Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing at Boeing, told Reuters on Saturday that it was “in quite advanced discussions with a number of customers.”

“The [777X freighter] looks good from a design point of view and a requirements point of view. “

A worker checks cargo in the hold of a Boeing Co 777-300ER passenger aircraft, operated by Air France-KLM, before departing for Los Angeles, USA, at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, France, on Monday 10 May 2021.

Nathan Laine | Bloomberg | Getty pictures

Before the pandemic, a significant volume of cargo was carried in the belly of passenger aircraft. But after these planes were put on the ground as a result of travel restrictions, the industry instead focused on dedicated cargo planes.

Many airlines have seen robust cargo volumes in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, Emirates Airlines’ last half-year result reported a 39% increase in freight volumes, which brought them almost to 2019 levels.

Pandemic recovery

More generally, Deal added on Sunday that Boeing was expecting more orders before the end of the year.

“Well, we’ve had a good year so far. We’ve booked around 309 new orders net this year, 720 gross. It’s a pretty good start. And these discussions continue on this air show. It’s not over, we expect more orders “before the end of the year. And it will position itself well into 2022,” he said. Boeing had ordered orders over 700 for the years between 2014 and 2018.

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“[2022] will be about growth. It will be about continuing to produce more on our narrow body, 737 Max, the broad market we will still see some steady improvement as the international markets return, he added.

Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Deal said that Boeing continued to monitor vaccination rates on a global basis.

“We see it as a key to recovery. If you saw all the domestic markets recover, the vaccination rate is going pretty well. And now it’s the third vaccine that goes into the arms of people all over the world,” he said. “So I think we’ll see the continued spread of vaccines that will unleash and build trust back in the public for recovery.”

—CNBC’s Dan Murphy contributed to this article.

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