Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) has become the latest customer to sign up for the new freighter version of the Airbus A350 aircraft.  

The carrier has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the European manufacturer for seven A350F aircraft, with options for a further five, SIA announced on December 15, 2021.   

SIA said it plans for the Airbus freighters to replace its fleet of Boeing 747-400F freighters, with. deliveries due to begin in the fourth quarter of 2025. SIA added it will be the first airline to operate the new widebody cargo aircraft. 

The deal for the A350F includes a swap with 15 A320neo and two A350-900 passenger aircraft that were in the SIA order book.  

“This allows SIA to manage its capital expenditure, while continuing with the essential freighter renewal programme,” the airline commented.  

In a separate statement on December 15, 2021, Airbus noted that the agreement with Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) represents the third commitment received for the new A350F over the past month and highlighted that SIA is the world’s largest operator of the A350, with 56 aircraft currently in service.  

“We are honored by Singapore Airlines’ (SIA1) (SINGY) vote of confidence in the A350F as it renews its freighter fleet,” Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said in a statement. “It is gratifying that Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) recognises the value of the A350F as we build on the strong partnership we already enjoy.”  

Airbus announced the launch of a freighter variant of the A350 widebody aircraft on July 29, 2021. Lessor Air Lease Corp announced the first order for the new cargo aircraft at the Dubai Airshow on November 15, 2021.  

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Boeing is planning to compete with Airbus by launching a freighter version of its 777X widebody jet. The US manufacturer said at the Dubai Airshow that it was in talks with customers over the new cargo plane.  

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Freight has proven a bright spot for many airlines during the pandemic and the industry hopes that increasing demand for e-Commerce will help keep demand for air freight strong over the next few years.  

Data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released on December 2, 2021 showed demand for air freight was still above pre-crisis levels, up 9.4% compared to October 2019. It said that supply chain congestion caused by the pandemic was pushing manufacturers towards faster air cargo for shipments.