Airbus has secured another commitment for its prospective A350F freighter, this time a memorandum of understanding from shipping and logistics company CMA CGM Group covering the purchase of four of the new cargo airliners. The order, still subject to conclusion “in the coming weeks,” will increase the size of CMA CGM’s fleet of Airbuses to nine, including five A330-200Gs. CMA CGM Air Cargo—the group’s recently launched air cargo division—will operate the aircraft.
The deal with CMA CGM closely follows the announcement of a much-anticipated launch order from Air Lease Corporation for seven A350Fs during the Dubai Airshow as part of a giant deal that included 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs, and four A330-990neos.
As the launch customer for the A350 freighter, Udvar-Hazy noted that seven aircraft “was a good place to start” and that it hoped to add more. The aircraft offers a range of nearly 5,000 nm with a full 109-tonne payload and, crucially, accounts for the only aircraft that can meet the target figures for noise and emissions slated to come into effect in 2027.
ALC has already entered discussions with five potential customers for the A350F, due for delivery starting in 2026. By that time, Airbus believes, operators of many of the current converted airliner-type freighters such as the Boeing 747 and MD-11 will have begun the process of removing them from service. The efficiencies that new aircraft can bring to the cargo sector compared with legacy types are far more pronounced over long-haul routes, and Airbus envisions a global long-haul fleet of about 900 aircraft, of which the proportion of new-build aircraft will increase compared with today’s figures.
All told, Airbus landed firm orders for 269 aircraft and commitments for another 139 in Dubai.