Freighter manufacturers celebrate Asian boom

BOOMING demand from Asia is keeping aircraft manufacturers happy, with the likes of Hong Kong Airlines and China Eastern Airlines ordering freighters at a rapid pace.

China will help the Asia-Pacific region account for a third of global plane deliveries over the next 20 years, Boeing said. Rival Airbus said it expects airlines in Asia to take delivery of 8,560 aircraft in the next 20 years, representing a third of the global total.

In early March, Hong Kong Airlines agreed to buy six 777 freighters from Boeing. Meanwhile, Boeing’s 747-8 freighter version has won 74 orders from customers including Cathay Pacific Airways, an Air China affiliate.

Also this month, China Eastern Airlines, which operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing freighters, has revealed a massive expansion plan of 250 extra aircraft by 2015. In four years the fleet will total 588 units comprising 531 passenger aircraft, 30 freighters and 27 utility aircraft. As of 30 June 2010, the Shanghai-based carrier operated 338 aircraft, comprising 320 passenger aircraft and 18 freighters.

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