Air International 2007-02
I.Goold - Air Cargo - A Global Review /Commercial/
Older types of aircraft, such as the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8, still provide good service to cargo operators. Despite being more than 35 years old, over 200 of these types are still in use around the world as freighters. A DC-8-71F of Colombian operator Tampa Cargo is pictured just before touchdown at Miami International Airport.
Airbus is offering its massive A380 as a freighter, and UPS has ordered ten of the type. The European manufacturer's double-decker aircraft is competing against the Boeing 777 and the latest version of the Jumbo, the 747-8F, Airbus recently suffered a setback when Federal Express cancelled its order for A380s and opted instead for 777s.
Since the end of the Cold War many former Russian military transport aircraft, like this Antonov An-12 pictured, have been put into commercial use. These companies from former Eastern Bloc countries are able to offer cheap rates, posing stiff competition to Western operators.
Over the years Boeing has been the market leader in offering cargo variants of its aircraft. To date, only the Airbus A300 and A310 have seen service as dedicated freighters. Despite the A300 being the European manufacturer's first project, its popularity as a freighter has kept it in production.
Air cargo is a rapidly-expanding business reckoned to be worth £27 billion in 2005. Using an aircraft to move freight has the advantage of speed over other forms of transport, and this aspect has been seized on to great effect by express package companies such as DHL. One of this company's Boeing 757s is pictured being loaded with containers at DHL's East Midlands Airport hub.
Some of the earliest air cargo was mail, and the speed with which aircraft can traverse great distances means that aviation continues to play an important role in this area. In the UK, the Royal Mail contracts a large number of aircraft from numerous operators, such as this Titan Airways' Boeing 737-300, painted in the customer's livery.
A Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-412F lifts off from Anchorage in Alaska, a key re-fuelling point for freight flights between Europe and Asia. This carrier is among the world's top nine cargo airlines - the eight others are also from Asia.