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Which aircraft make the most cost-efficient freighter conversions?

Which commercial aircraft make the most cost-effective freighter conversions? We use InsightIQ to examine the state of play in the market.

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Image: Simon Mallinder, Flickr


As the world emerges from Covid-19 and local restrictions are lifted, the global rise in e-commerce shows no signs of slowing down. The need for limited social contact during the pandemic drove a boom in online transactions, with a clear and positive knock-on effect for the freighter sector. Freighter forecasts have adjusted respectively, with the total number of in-service freighter aircraft forecasted to be in excess of 2,750 airframes by 2033. It is additionally important to be cautious about such predictions, as there is still an element of uncertainty around what future buying patterns will emerge.


IBA data forecasts a continual increase in the number of freighter aircraft in service


Which commercial types are the most cost-efficient to convert into freighters?

Intelligence from our aviation data platform InsightIQ reveals that the Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 767-300ER as top performers in the freighter aircraft conversion market.


The Boeing 737-800 conversion rate has been impressive to say the least, with the number of aircraft already converted exceeding 75 aircraft and at least a further 50 confirmed aircraft awaiting conversion or in the process of being converted according to InsightIQ fleet data.


A graph summarising the trend in Boeing 737-800 freighter conversions

The Boeing 767-300ER continues to prove to be a popular choice when it comes to P2F conversions. Despite this, feedstock is starting to become limited as is expected to become critical in 2024. 137 Boeing 767-300ER aircraft have been converted from passenger to freighter configuration to-date, while an additional 39 airframes pending or under conversion.


A graph tracking the number of 767-300ER aircraft converted into freighters


Whilst the 737-800 and 767-300ER continue to be key players, it's not an entirely Boeing story. Both the Airbus A321-200 and A330-300 are also set to be popular types for converting into freighters as we progress through the 2020s. Airbus A321-200 programs have only recently started converting aircraft, while the Airbus A330-300 is entering that value range where a greater amount of feedstock now makes economic sense for P2F conversion. As such, IBA expects diversification in the freighter aircraft conversion market as we proceed through the decade.


IBA's InsightIQ analysis platform flexibly illustrates multiple asset, fleet and market positions, actual and potential, to inform client choices and identify acquisition opportunities. Immediate access to crucial aircraft, engine, lease rate and fleet data eases appreciation of historic and future aircraft concentrations and operator profiles.

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