by Xinhua writer Hu Tao
BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Boeing is upbeat about the Chinese market and is designing products and services to meet the demands of the growing e-commerce sector, according to a Boeing executive.
"In emerging markets, led by China, we've seen huge demand for freighters from e-commerce and express delivery entities," said Anbessie Yitbarek, Boeing vice president of Customer Support for Asia Pacific.
"The Northeast Asia region is the fastest growing e-commerce trading bloc, with China at the front," Yitbarek told Xinhua.
Boeing provides more than 90 percent of the world's freighter capacity.
It forecasts that, over the next 20 years, there will be demand for more than 1,000 converted freighters the size of the 737-series. China's domestic air freight will account for one-third of the global market.
To meet the demand, Boeing will offer services including the 737-800 Boeing converted freighter (BCF) program.
"The program is an economical choice in the standard-body freighter market", said Yitbarek.
Boeing has the 737-800 BCF program in Shanghai, launched in 2016, the converted planes will be certificated in the second to third quarter, and the planes will be delivered, on schedule, in the fourth quarter of 2017.
According to Yitbarek, a passenger plane can be converted into a freighter after it has been in operation for approximately 15-20 years.
The first 737-800s to be used by Chinese airlines were built in the late 1990s, so there are plenty of aircraft nearing an age that is appropriate for conversion.
The conversions will be done at Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering (STAECO).
Moreover, Boeing is offering license engineering data so that other parties can undertake conversions.
"This gives clients more options through healthy competition."
"China has the strongest demand for standard-body freighters," he said adding that Boeing has already accepted 60 orders and commitments for the 737-800BCF -- half from Chinese customers.
In the global air cargo market, wide-body freighters are used for new freighters while standard-body freighters are normally converted into freighters.
Boeing understands the opportunities afforded by the booming e-commerce and air cargo market in China -- online retail sales in China were half that of the United States in 2010 and by 2013, they surpassed the United States.
Unique to China's air cargo market is that the majority of demand for freighters is from delivery companies.
"That's why we need to design and launch a converted freighter that can meet the specific needs of the China market," he said.
According to Yitbarek, Boeing will provide delivery firms with suitable freighters, support them in establishing logistics infrastructure, and share their best practices.
"As an aviation leader, Boeing provides airplane life-cycle support and services to the global aviation industry," said Yitbarek.
To him, it is a privilege for Boeing to be part of the fabric of China' s delivery and e-commerce market.
"All parties will support the healthy development of the China market," said Yitbarek.