Seattle - On March 23, Boeing announced a firm order from All Nippon Airways (ANA) for two 777F. The freighters are to increase the cargo capacity of the Japanese company to compete better in the recently booming freight market.

The contract is valued by the American manufacturer $678 million at list price. The delivery of both 777Fs is scheduled for 2019. ANA will become the first operator of the type in Japan.

All Nippon Airways is one of the leading operators of the 777 passenger version worldwide. The carrier built its cargo business with a fleet of Boeing 767 Freighters. Its cargo fleet currently consists of four 767-300ERF and eight 767-300BCF. The 777 Freighters will allow the operator to increase its capacity as the air cargo market continues to grow at historically high rates.

The market growth rate reached 9% worldwide in 2017, more than double the previously foreseen (around 4.2%).

The growth trend continued in January this year with an increase of 8% compared to the same month last year. Experts say the strong performance is a reflection of the health of global trade, fueled largely by the expansion of online commerce.

ANA intends to operate its 777 Freighters on international routes, mainly to Asia, and North America.

The 777F offers a range of 4900 nm (9,070 km) with a payload of 102 tons. ANA points out that it can, for instance, carry oversized cargo and special items such as aircraft engines, semiconductor equipment, lithium batteries and pharmaceuticals in large quantities.