Market Presence. The B747-400F was originally developed in the 1990s but the first example destined for Air France had to be parked for two years before it was delivered to Cargolux due to the downturn that was impacting the market in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. However, by the mid 1990s the market was beginning to improve and lease rentals actually rose for the -400F although the Asian Crisis at the end of the 1990s caused a monetary lapse. At this time, there was no conversion for the -400 passenger aircraft and operators were still very much reliant on the -200SFs and the production -400Fs. The events of 2001 saw a rapid fall in lease rentals which latest a until 2004 when the market picked up once more. In the next few years there was rapid growth in the airfreight market with the China-U.S. and China-Europe routes requiring considerable capacity. This prompted the development of the -400 passenger conversion program but the rates for the -400F increased once more.
Market Outlook. Pricing of between $15-20 million for early examples in perhaps less than half life condition may now be more appropriate in todays market. Value Convergence will become more apparent with the values of the youngest converging on the oldest. There will be opportunistic buyers who will be seeking to buy aircraft for even less but such sales will be dependent on the desperation of owners. Such owners may prefer instead to part out the aircraft such an option is perhaps still premature. In the past, the airfreight market has seen an upturn in demand which has led to a shortage of equipment. However, with changing dynamics, a steady increase in underfloor capacity of passenger widebodies, the conversion of B777s and A330s, and keen pricing of new freighters, there exists a concern whether values of the B747-400 freighter will ever stage a recovery. The question for owners is whether they consider that the cargo market will feature a traditional upswing creating a surge in demand forcing pricing upwards or should there be an expectation of a continued decline in fortunes.