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Old 21st October 2022, 10:15 AM
Greg Hyde Greg Hyde is online now
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Default Airbus markets specialized Beluga super freighter to outsiders

Airbus markets specialized Beluga super freighter to outsiders

The odd-looking super transport aircraft with a bulbous forehead long used by Airbus to ferry aircraft sections between manufacturing and assembly plants is increasingly being made available to commercial customers with outsized freight shipments, company officials said Monday.

An Airbus Beluga ST over the weekend delivered an Airbus-built Hotbird 13G satellite for Eutelsat to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, hours after the twin telecom satellite was successfully launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It was the Beluga’s first visit to the United States in 13 years.

Demand to airlift cargo that is too tall or wide to fit on a traditional freighter is on the rise. There is not enough capacity, especially after Russian airline Volga-Dnepr was effectively put out of business by western sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine and no longer able to fly its roll-on/roll-off Antonov An-124 aircraft.

Aircraft engine, aerospace, maritime, defense and the oil and gas industries represent the types of customers that are seeking fast, efficient transport to complete large projects.

“We believe there is high interest on the market for the unique volume capacity of the Beluga,” said Benoit Lemonnier, managing director of Airbus Beluga Transport, the new subsidiary and service being offered to freight forwarders and charter brokers, in a briefing for reporters. “We know that the market is made up of several hundred missions a year and we want to capture a significant part of that.”

Most of the moves executed so far have involved Airbus customers, but executives said they are fielding many inquiries from third parties. Lemonnier said the first mission for a third-party customer will take place later this year.
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