Airbus SE is considering a new cargo model to compete against offerings from Boeing Co. (BA), driven by requests from e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and package delivery company United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS), reports Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. (See also: White House Inks $4B Deal with Boeing—Time to Buy?)
The European jet maker is weighing the option of building a freighter version of its slow-selling A300neo widebody—a move that could ignite heightened rivalry between it and U.S.-based Boeing, maker of the competing 767 freighter. As the two firms head of for a slice of the resurgent global air cargo market, Airbus' new model could come at an opportune time wherein Boeing has been forced to restrict production of its popular 767 freighter to focus on a military tanker variant that is well behind schedule.
The decision to go ahead with the cargo model could also help Airbus boost sales of its A330neo, a re-engined version of a smaller widebody plane which has struggled to take off with buyers. The A330neo has received just 214 orders and took a hit earlier in March as Hawaiian Airlines announced plans to switch the Boeing's Dreamliner.
More Cargo, Shorter Distances
Amazon and UPS have both requested that Airbus consider stretching the A330-900's fuselage, allowing the plans to carry more cargo while flying a shorter range, according to the sources cited by Bloomberg.
Amazon is planning an initial fleet of 40 used 767 freighters for its Prime Air fleet and has entered into discussions with Boeing in the past. Yet its plans seem to be much loftier than that, including a $1.5 billion air hub that the retailer plans to build near Cincinnati.
Whether or not adding new engines to the older A330ceo freighter will give Airbus a large enough edge against Boeing, which has logged nearly 200 orders for its 767-300 freighter, or about five times more than Airbus' A330-200F, remains up in the air. (See also: Goldman & Boeing: Drivers of 2018 Dow Gains.)