After being approved by the planemaker board, Airbus announced on Thursday that it will release a freighter variant of the A350. Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, during an interview about the results of the first half of 2021, revealed that the cargo jet will be capable of carrying more than 90 tons.
The Airbus CEO confirmed that the A350 freighter will be predominantly based on the -1000 variant of the long-range jet, while leveraging other elements of the -900 model.
The cargo widebody is expected to debut in the market in 2025. Airbus hopes to benefit from the lessons learned by transforming the A330 into the BelugaXL, a high-volume interior aircraft used to transport fuselage and wing sections between the company’s plants.
Airbus believes that the environmental changes instituted by the ICAO in 2028 should help the A350 cargo by banning the operation of older cargo aircraft.
Faury even predicted that Airbus will have the only new-generation freighter in the second half of the decade. Boeing, meanwhile, plans to launch a 777X freighter, but sees that possibility only in the relatively near term.
Advances in both programs have been spurred by Qatar Airways, which has already expressed its intention to have new freighter widebodies in the near future.