Airbus said its board had backed plans for an A350 freighter to enter service in 2025 as it looks to take head on rival Boeing’s dominance in the air cargo market, Reuters reports.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury said that following the green light, “we are enhancing our product line with an A350 freighter derivative, responding to customer feedback for increased competition and efficiency in this market segment.”
Plans by the European aircraft manufacturer to challenge Boeing’s control of the freight market, with its own version of a wide-bodied cargo jet, were first reported by Reuters in March.
The A350 freighter’s formal announcement is expected to trigger a response from Boeing after chief executive Dave Calhoun listed developments earlier this week, including a freighter version of the 777X ‘in the relatively near term’.
“We believe we have a very promising aircraft,” Faury said after unveiling better-than-expected half-year results earlier this week.
Airbus delivered 297 commercial aircraft in the first half of 2021 against Boeing’s 156 in the same period. Net orders meanwhile stood at 38 for Airbus in the first half, whilst the American aircraft manufacturer secured 243 for the same period.