The 747 has proven to be a very popular freighter, carrying around half of the world's air freight as of 2007. In an effort to maintain this dominant position, Boeing has developed a freight variant of the 747-8, dubbed 747-8 Freighter or 747-8F. The 747-8F will be the initial model to see entry into service (EIS). As on the 747-400F, the upper deck is shorter than passenger models; the 18 feet 3½ inches (5.58 m) stretch is just before and just aft of the wing. With a 970,000 lb (440,000 kg) maximum take-off weight, it will have a total payload capability of 308,000 lb (140,000 kg) and a range of 4,475 nmi (8,288 km).Four extra pallet spaces will be created on the main deck, with two extra containers and two extra pallets on the lower deck.

The 747-8F achieves a 16% lower ton-mile operating cost than the 747-400F and offer a slightly greater range. The 747-8F has more payload capacity but less range than the current 747-400ERF. When Boeing launched the ERF, all of the 35,000 lb (16,000 kg) increase in MTOW over the 747-400F 875,000–910,000 lb (397,000–413,000 kg)) allowed airlines to take off with more fuel, burn it during flight, and land at the same weight as the regular 747-400F. This increased the range of the 747-400ERF compared to the 747-400F. Cargo carriers such as Cargolux often move machinery or indivisible loads that require a plane with a higher payload and landing capability. As is common with cargo planes, range is given with maximum payload, not fuel. The 747-8's 60,000 lb (27,000 kg) MTOW increase (970,000 lb or 440,000 kg) has been directed exclusively to its Zero-Fuel weight or payload capacity. If taking off at maximum payload, the 747-8 takes off with its tanks roughly half empty. On trips where the payload is not at maximum, the plane can take on more fuel and extend its range.