India-based SpiceJet plans to grow its freighter fleet to six 737 NGs over the next twelve months – up significantly from the two freighters in SpiceXpress livery that exist today, according to a statement in SpiceJet’s fourth-quarter earnings release for the fiscal year 2018/2019 (ended 31 March 2019).
SpiceJet spun out a cargo subsidiary, SpiceXpress, and subsequently added its first 737-700BDSF on lease from Spectre Air Capital less than a year ago. The airline is now targeting six aircraft “during FY2020,” which ends 31 March 2020. Spectre Air Capital confirmed to Cargo Facts that it will be working with SpiceXpress to convert and lease at least four more 737 NG freighters to the carrier.
In the coming months, placements with SpiceXpress are set to accelerate. In April, SpiceXpress added a second -700BDSF (30512, ex-Xiamen Airlines) [FATs 004855-4856]. The next three freighters to join the SpiceXpress fleet have already been inducted, or are being staged for, conversion at IAI’s conversion sites in Israel and China. All three aircraft will likely be placed with the carrier over the next few months, according to Spectre. Cargo Facts believes a third 737-700BDSF (29084, ex-Xiamen Airlines) is bound for the SpiceXpress fleet. Soon after, the carrier will add a pair of -800s to complement the trio of -700s – likely units 30474 and 30475, which Spectre acquired from the HNA Group earlier this year.
Regarding SpiceXpress’ strategy for its incoming freighters, initially, plans call for the development of a regional hub-and-spoke network centered around Guwahati, the largest and most populous city in Northeast India. SpiceXpress already operates scheduled freighter flights between Guwahati (GAU) and Hong Kong (HKG), and will later add flights from Guwahati to each of the seven surrounding states. A mixed fleet of -700s and -800s will enable SpiceXpress to better match capacity with demand on routes with lighter volumes. Although destination airports in the Northeastern states have yet to be identified, the -700F variant is also more suitable for operations at airports with shorter runways – many airports in the region have runways just over 1,500 meters in length.
ANA Cargo's maiden 777F arrrives in Japan On 23 May, a 777F destined for ANA Cargo departed Victorville (VCV) and arrived at Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) at 9:53 PM local time on 24 May. The 777F delivery (65756) was the first of two 777Fs on order with Boeing [FAT 004893]. According to a photo shared on Twitter, ANA Cargo’s second 777F appears to have also completed final assembly and could be delivered shortly.
Last month at Cargo Facts Asia, Toshiya Tamada, EVP, Global Sales, ANA Cargo, said the first 777F would be put into commercial service by July as part of ANA Cargo’s first phase of a transition from chartered 747Fs towards own-operated 777Fs for use on long-haul flights. Initially, the 777Fs will connect Japan and Shanghai. As route authorities are granted, ANA Cargo plans to serve destinations in the United States and Europe. Chicago (ORD) will be ANA Cargo’s first 777F destination in the US, and flights could commence as soon as this fall, pending regulatory approval.
Although ANA Cargo is expected to reduce its chartered 747 capacity, the carrier still has access to 747F capacity through a 2018 agreement with NCA. The two carriers have long had an interline agreement, and since last year also share block space agreements and full code-sharing on certain flights. As part of the agreement, NCA has access to ANA’s intra-Asia freighter network and the belly space in its passenger fleet, while ANA is able to put its code on NCA’s long-haul services to Europe and North America.
Citing weaker air cargo demand compared to the previous two years, Lufthansa Cargo said it is adjusting its summer schedule and reducing the number of flights it will operate in the second and third quarters of 2019.
Flights will be cut in line with demand, and customers will be informed of the changes accordingly. The German carrier said that the adjustments will help to ensure profitable load factors and continued deployment of aircraft at optimum levels going forward.
“We have traditionally taken a flexible approach to the flight program for our freighter fleet to suit customer requirements,” said Peter Gerber, CEO and chairman of the executive board at Lufthansa Cargo. The schedule reductions will also allow Lufthansa Cargo to continue renewing its freighter fleet. The carrier inducted a 777F in February (66089) and another in March (66090) [FATs 004791, 004815] and expects to withdraw two of its twelve remaining MD-11Fs from service by the end of 2019.
ATSG expands credit facility to grow 767 freighter fleet This week, Air Transport Services Group announced the growth of its credit facility by US$100 million to $645 million, along with a one-year extension through May 2024. Quint Turner, ATSG’s CFO, said the company will invest a majority of its $475 million capital expenditure budget this year to acquire thirteen 767-300s, most of which will be converted to freighter configuration.
“We expect to convert and add nine 767s to our freighter leasing portfolio during the year, with a tenth aircraft remaining in passenger configuration and operated by our airline subsidiary Omni Air International,” Turner said.
Cargo Aircraft Management, ATSG’s leasing affiliate, is expected to place many of its incoming 767-300 converted freighters in service with Amazon Air via its ABX and ATI affiliate carriers during 2019 and 2020. As for the source of the incoming 767s, last year, ATSG secured the rights to twenty 767-300s coming out of American Airlines’ fleet. ATSG also announced during its 1Q19 earnings call that it had secured an agreement to lease at least four 767-300BDSFs to UPS, but ATSG’s COO, Rich Corrado, suggested during the call that the ex-American 767s would not go into service with UPS.
Recent freighter aircraft transactions: EVA Air took delivery of a 777F (62828), ferried from Boeing’s Paine Field (PAE) to Taipei (TPE) [FAT 004895]. The aircraft is the fifth and final 777F the Taiwan-based carrier had on order with Boeing.
FedEx retired an MD-10-30F (47835), which was ferried to Victorville (VCV) for storage in the desert [FAT 004896].
In related news, FedEx took delivery of a 767-300F (63106) from Boeing [FAT 004897]. The express giant still has forty-eight of the type on order with Boeing.
A Transcarga International Airways A300B4F (261) was returned off lease from Mexico-based AeroUnion and appears to be operating again in scheduled service for the Venezuelan carrier [FAT 00489]. AeroUnion had ACMI leased the aircraft in December 2018 after the landing gear on one of its own A300Fs collapsed, damaging the aircraft.