UPS Inc. said today it has ordered 14 of the Boeing Co.'s 747-8 jumbo freighters and has placed options on 14 more. This is the company's first aircraft order in three years, and the first time it will fly Boeing's latest-generation cargo plane.
Atlanta-based UPS will take delivery of the aircraft between 2017 and 2020. Each plane can carry 307,600 pounds—equal to about 30,000 packages—at a range of 4,340 nautical miles. The planes will be used on the company's main international air lanes, and on its "around-the-world" service connecting North America, Asia and the Middle East, Mike Mangeot, a spokesman for UPS' airline unit, said in an e-mail.
No existing aircraft will be removed from service as a result of the additions, Mangeot said. UPS declined to disclose financial terms.
UPS has operated 747 freighter versions for decades. It currently flies 13 747-400 freighters, which was Boeing's most current 747 all-cargo model until the 747-8. UPS pilots will be able to fly both types, the company said. The 8 aircraft have 16 percent more revenue cargo-carrying capacity than the -400 model.
The 747-8 freighter made its maiden flight in 2011, with Luxembourg-based carrier Cargolux International Airlines S.A. as its launch customer. The -8 model, built in passenger and freighter configurations, is the biggest 747 model ever, and the largest commercial aircraft of any kind built in the United States.
As of last month, there were 124 confirmed orders for the -8s, 74 of them freighters, according to Boeing data found online.
Separately, UPS said today it expects to deliver more than 700 million packages worldwide during the upcoming peak holiday shipping season, a 14-percent increase over last year's levels and a record for the company.
This year's peak will encompass 25 delivery days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, two more delivery days than in 2015, UPS said. Of the 21 delivery days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 13 will exceed 30 million deliveries, which would also be a record. UPS has set Dec. 19 as its peak delivery day. Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year.
UPS delivers about 18 million packages on an average non-peak business day.