The airplanes, with a total average list price value of $1.4 billion, are scheduled for delivery beginning in 2008.
These six new-build freighter orders are in addition to the six orders Cathay Pacific had earlier placed with Boeing for 747-400 Boeing Converted Freighter modifications. The airline currently operates 14 Boeing 747 freighters.
“Cargo is a major contributor to our continued growth, and we are committed to expanding our freighter fleet to ensure it plays a key role in the future of both Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong as a leading cargo hub,” said Philip Chen, Chief Executive of Cathay Pacific.
According to Boeing, the 747-400ER Freighter has a maximum takeoff weight of 910,000 pounds (412,770 kg), a maximum payload of 248,600 pounds (112,760 kg) and a maximum range of 4,970 nautical miles (9,200 km).
To support the 35,000 pounds (15,876 kg) of additional takeoff weight capability, the 747-400ER Freighter incorporates strengthened fuselage, landing gear, and parts of its wing, along with new, larger tires.
This takeoff weight increase over existing 747-400 Freighters allows the 747-400ER Freighter to fly an additional 525 nautical miles (972 km). Or, it can carry an additional 22,000 pounds (9,980 kg) of payload on long-range flights at maximum takeoff weight.
Boeing projects in its World Air Cargo Forecast 2004/2005 that the air cargo industry will grow at an average annual rate of 6.2 percent during the next 20 years, significantly higher than passenger traffic, with the fastest-growing segments occurring within Asia and connecting Asia to other parts of the world.
The forecast also projects that China’s domestic air cargo market is expected to grow annually at a rate of 10.6 percent, the world’s highest growth rate.