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Emirates Selects Israeli Defence Company to Covert Four Boeing 777-300 Aircraft into Freighters

Emirates Selects Israeli Defence Company to Covert Four Boeing 777-300 Aircraft into Freighters

Emirates has chosen an Israeli defence company to covert at least four of its passenger Boeing 777-300 aircraft into freighters as the Dubai-based airline looks to take advantage of the boom in cargo demand. The airline will also introduce two new 777F freighter aircraft into its fleet next year.

The deal with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was signed on the second day of the biennial Dubai Air Show – the first year that Israel has ever taken part following the normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year.

The conversion programme will begin in early 2023 and is scheduled to be completed by 2024. The work will take around five months per aircraft and includes adding large cargo doors where the passenger cabin used to be and covering up the passenger windows.

In the meantime, Emirates continues to operate 16 Boeing 777-300 mini-freighters in which the seats have been ripped out of the Economy Class cabin to make room for extra cargo to be carried in the passenger cabin.

Like many airlines, Emirates introduced its mini-freighters at the height of the pandemic when passenger demand was virtually non-existent but cargo capacity was feeling a squeeze.

Late last year, Emirates SkyCargo was even using some of the airline’s otherwise grounded Airbus A380’s for ‘mini-freighter’ operations but the Boeing 777 is far more suited to the role.

Until recently, it would seem inconceivable that Emirates would select an Israeli company to complete this work despite the fact that IAI has become the world’s leading freighter conversion specialist.

Emirates claims that the converted aircraft will have a similar payload capacity as a purpose-built 777F but that they’ll be more efficient per tonne of cargo carried than the industry standard freighters.

The total investment is estimated to be worth US$1 billion according to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates as the deal was announced on Monday.

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