China Airlines looks to lease out freighters

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Taiwan's China Airlines is looking to lease out some of its Boeing 747-400 Freighters as a result of the weak air cargo market.

In an interview with Flightglobal Pro in Taipei, president Sun HH says the flag carrier has been in talks with "potential partners", with the aim of leasing out some of its fleet of 21 747-400Fs.

"The cargo market is not doing too well. We want to lease out the capacity but there are so many 747Fs in the market. The lease terms are not great too," he says. "The cargo market is flat. The market has been on the downturn for more than two years now, it has never been so long before. The worst is more or less behind us, but the problem is when will it recover, and the speed is very very slow."

Three of China Airlines' 21 747Fs have been taken out of service and are parked in California.

Sun adds that new generation aircraft have larger belly space, and that moving forward, the carrier could use more passengers jets to meet the needs of its cargo customers.

"The freighter outlook is not too promising. There will still be a need for it, but the market won't grow consistently yearly like it did before," he says.

Rival Eva Air echos Sun's view, saying that moving forward, the carrier will gradually reduce freighter capacity and use more passenger aircraft for cargo.

"Belly hold will be more important in the future," says Eva president Austin Cheng. "We foresee the pattern of air cargo has changed, so we need to change our strategy as well."

Eva's dedicated freighter fleet includes nine 747s and six Boeing MD-11s.