By Andy Sambidge
European airline part owned by Qatar Airways is first to take delivery of new aircraft
Europe's Cargolux Airlines, which is part-owned by Qatar Airways, has taken delivery of the first Boeing 747-8 freighter, the US plane maker has said.
The airplane departed for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where the new freighter will receive its first cargo load, destined for Cargolux headquarters in Luxembourg, Boeing said in a statement.
Cargolux initially declined to take the 747-8 because its fuel burn fell 2.7 percent below guarantees, said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker last week.
Cargolux made the decision September 16, three days before it was to accept the planes and about three months after Qatar took a 35 percent stake.
Cargolux has ordered a total of 13 747-8 freighters – its 10-airplane launch order in 2005 and a follow-on order for three additional airplanes placed in 2007.
Boeing, Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines announced the initial orders for the 747-8 freighter in November 2005 and the latest delivery comes nearly 18 years after Cargolux was the recipient of the first Boeing 747-400 freighter, which went on to become the workhorse and standard of the air cargo industry.
"This is a great day for The Boeing Company and for Cargolux," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"The 747-8 freighter is truly the queen of the skies for the 21st century, and will continue the promise of the 747 for decades to come."
The airplane will be a perfect addition to the Cargolux fleet, added Frank Reimen, Cargolux president and CEO.
"The new Boeing 747-8 freighter will help Cargolux maintain its position as an industry leader that we built upon our 747-400 freighter operation," he added.
Eight customers have ordered a total of 75 747-8 freighters.