Mark Elias/Bloomberg News

UPS Inc. purchased its first used Boeing Co. 767s, grabbing older models that are in high demand as package shipments increase globally and production slots for new versions of the plane are sold out.

The three passenger aircraft, 767-300ERs that will be converted to carry freight, were bought “within the past couple of days,” UPS spokesman Jim Mayer said April 7. He declined to identify the seller or the cost and couldn’t say when the new planes will begin flights for the Atlanta-based courier. The company has 59 of the model now, all ordered from Boeing in January 1993.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

The 767, which debuted in 1982 as Boeing’s first twin-engine wide-body, has enjoyed a resurgence as a freighter as the passenger version loses popularity. Boeing plans to speed output by 25% later this year as it juggles contracts to build the first of potentially 400 aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force and 50 freighters for FedEx Corp.

“It’s simply a plan for investment in capacity we need for growth,” Mayer said of the 767 purchase. The planes will be deployed “pretty much anywhere we operate.”

The price of used aircraft vary widely depending on age, condition and other factors. Consulting firm Avitas gives the 767-300ER a book value of between $9 million for a 20-year-old plane to $20 million for one that’s a decade old.

UPS in October ordered 14 larger Boeing 747 jumbo jets valued at $5.3 billion amid strong package-volume growth in China and Hong Kong. Mayer didn’t know if UPS had sought to order new 767s before buying the used ones.

Air Transport Services Group Inc. and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. have been acquiring used 767s to operate for Inc.’s nascent air-cargo service. Each will operate 20 of the planes for the online retailer.

Cargo Facts reported earlier that UPS purchased a 767 from Japan Airlines Co.

By Bloonberg News

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