Boeing’s 747-8 program has received a signifiant boost with a new order from United Parcel Service (UPS) for up to 28 aircraft.
The global freight and logistics company based in Atlanta has ordered 14 747-8Fs with an option for a further 14, Boeing said on Thursday (US time).
“These aircraft are a strategic investment for increased capacity for UPS customers around the globe,” UPS Airlines president Brendan Canavan said in a statement.
“The 747-8 will allow UPS to upsize our network in both new and existing markets.”
Figures from the Boeing website showed that the 747-8 program had 15 unfilled orders at September – not including the UPS order – comprising six freighters and nine of the passenger variant.
As a result, the UPS order almost doubles the backlog for the 747 program, which has been struggling for new orders amid a sluggish cargo market and the preference for fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft in the passenger market.
Currently, Boeing is producing the aircraft at a rate of 0.5 units a month.
The 747-8 has logged three net orders so far in 2016 – AirBridgeCargo Airlines ordered four, while there was one cancellation.
“UPS could not have selected a better aircraft to meet its growing business needs,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president, sales, North America and Leasing Brad McMullen said in a statement.
“We’ve continued to make the 747-8 Freighter even better, and we look forward to seeing UPS introduce it to its fleet.”
UPS said in a statement the new 747-8Fs would be delivered between 2017 and 2020 and would be used to boost capacity in busy markets through a “cascade” of aircraft-route reassignments.
“UPS is making several strategic capital investments for increased global operating capacity,” UPS chairman and chief executive David Abney said.
“These investments will help enable customers to expand their presence in new and existing markets while fueling our profitable growth and attainment of UPS’s long term business objectives.”
The company has 13 Boeing 747-400F freighters in its fleet.