Airbus SE secured the second order this week for its coming A350 freighter, reaching an outline agreement with French shipping firm CMA CGM Group covering four of the widebody twinjets.

The memorandum of understanding is expected to be finalized over coming weeks, according to a statement Friday. It follows a separate deal for seven A350Fs reached with leasing giant Air Lease at the Dubai Airshow. 

The follow-up gives the new model sales momentum as Airbus tries to chip away at Boeing‘s dominance in the freighter market. The European planemaker launched the A350F in July, stealing a march on its U.S. rival, which is preparing to introduce an all-cargo version of its planned 777x widebody.

CMA CGM will have a total of 11 planes in its fast-growing air-cargo fleet once all deliveries come in. The French container shipping specialist is among a handful of large firms in the sector that are moving aggressively into logistics to capitalize on surging rates for air freight. 

In September, Marseille-based CMA CGM ordered two current-generation Boeing 777s slated to be delivered next year. It started its air-freight unit in March with four smaller Airbus A330-200F aircraft, and is converting another of the type from passenger use.

Danish shipping giant Maersk ordered two 777 freighters this month. 

Shares of Airbus fell 3.4% in Paris on Friday amid a sell-off in travel stocks tied to COVID-19 lockdowns and rising infection rates in Europe. Boeing fell 5.8% on reports of further issues with 787 Dreamliner production. 


Both Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and Boeing were hunting for freighter orders in Dubai, with sales executives schmoozing the same small circle of potential buyers. 

Airbus is the only one to get order commitments so far, though Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said this week he is weighing a Boeing offer.

Airbus plans to aggressively pursue its rival’s dominance in the freighter market. The company got board approval to launch the A350F in late July and opted to move ahead without customers lined up, while continuing to woo potential targets.

The planemaker plans to bring the jet into service by 2025 and those briefed on it say it has a 109-ton payload and the range to cruise the Pacific Ocean.