Qantas offloads cargo freighter plan

Qantas has ditched plans to add a near-new Boeing 747 freighter to its fleet due to continued weakness in the international air-cargo market.

Qantas has ditched plans to add a near-new Boeing 747 freighter to its fleet due to continued weakness in the international air-cargo market.

The latest figures from the peak airline body also show that while the global air-freight market recorded modest growth in July, cargo demand in the Asia-Pacific region fell 1.4 per cent, partly due to sluggish business activity in China.

Qantas had intended to take on the 747 freighter later this year, replacing a contract it has with US air cargo company Atlas Air to lease an older jumbo and crew - known as a wet lease.

A wet lease Qantas has on another Atlas Air jumbo also expires in 2015. But Qantas said it decided not to finalise the new lease agreement for the 747 freighter because of softness in the global air-freight market.

"The air freight industry is cyclical and Qantas will re-examine options when the markets have strengthened," a spokesman said.

Last week, Qantas gave an insight into the weak state of the freight market when it released its annual results. Its freight division booked a 20 per cent fall in pre-tax profit to $36 million in the year to June, which the airline said reflected an 11 per cent fall in its international cargo capacity.

Qantas' freight unit has a fleet of 13 aircraft, including three 747s, one Boeing 767 used on the trans-Tasman route, and four 737 freighters. Freight is also carried on Qantas and Jetstar passenger jets.

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