The type of conversions being ordered depends on the lanes of travel, said Rich Corrado, chief commercial officer with aircraft lessor Air Transport Services Group. "Express freight needs quicker service with more frequencies of flight," he said. "With a 747, you typically see three-times-per-week service. But for DHL's jets, they operate on a hub-and-spoke model and fly about three hours or less. You're just not going to fill a whole 747 for express shipments in a three-hour flight."
Today, there are more widebody freighters flying than narrowbodies by a factor of nearly two to one. But demand for new-build widebody freighters is decreasing, and widebody freighter conversion programs are all but dead. Take a trip to the aircraft purgatories of Victorville and Marana in the American Southwest and you're likely to see plenty of perfectly adequate 747-400Fs parked in the desert sun.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.