Kalitta Air receives first 777F US-based Kalitta Air acquired its first 777F (35607, ex-Emirates) on lease from DAE Aviation [FAT 004938]. The aircraft arrived at Kalitta’s Detroit area base at Willow Run Airport (YIP) earlier this week and will be operating in commercial service following ETOPS qualification, which is expected within six weeks.
At some point, fleet renewal would be inevitable for Kalitta’s 747-400F fleet, which currently numbers twenty-five units, and the 777F platform is a logical option. With years of viable life remaining on the majority of Kalitta’s 747s and a reputation for exemplary maintenance capabilities, however, the pressure to modernize is not yet severe.
Why then, is Kalitta adding the 777F platform today? For a scheduled cargo and charter carrier that opportunistically adds widebody freighters to its fleet, it’s possible Kalitta secured favorable terms with DAE Aviation for the 777F just off-lease from Emirates. Given the robust demand for the 777F, it would be hard to imagine DAE Aviation faced too much difficulty in finding a home for the aircraft.
Instead, Kalitta appears to be signaling to DHL Express that it too is interested in providing CMI services for its future 777F fleet. Last July, the German express company placed an order with Boeing for fourteen 777Fs, with options for up to seven more. DHL’s first 777F was delivered last month and was handed over to Southern Air for operation on a CMI basis. Although Atlas has said its Southern Air affiliate is also contracted to operate the second 777F, DHL Express has yet to identify an operator for subsequent deliveries. Looking ahead to DHL’s remaining twelve 777Fs on firm order, Cargo Facts has previously noted that DHL has options as it evaluates CMI operators for its 777Fs – with Kalitta joining the ranks of ACMI operators with the 777 platform, DHL has yet another option.
GECAS orders more 737-800BCF conversions,15 headed to Amazon At the Paris Air Show this week, lessor GECAS firmed up ten existing options for 737-800BCF conversions and added options for fifteen more with Boeing [FATs 004945-4969], while Amazon confirmed plans to lease fifteen additional 737-800BCFs from GECAS by 2021 [FATs 004971-4985].
Following the agreements, GECAS has outstanding firm orders for forty-five 737-800BCF conversions and options for an additional twenty. Accounting for GECAS’ latest -800BCF redelivery, the lessor’s firm order backlog stands at thirty-four, following eleven redeliveries to date. GECAS also has outstanding orders and options for eighteen 737-800SF conversions from AEI, following redelivery of the first two frames to Ethiopian Airlines earlier this year.
Last month, Atlas Air Worldwide’s subsidiary carrier Southern Air announced it would put at least five 737-800BCFs into service for Amazon on a CMI basis. As part of the agreement with AAWW, Amazon also has options for the CMI lease of up to fifteen more 737-800BCFs by May 2021. This week, GECAS confirmed its role as the lessor of those first five aircraft, as well as of the remaining fifteen Amazon said it will lease by 2021.
For its part, Amazon said its domestic US fleet is projected to hit at least 70 units by 2021, at which point it will comprise fifty 767Fs and twenty 737-800BCFs. If Amazon exercises its existing options, however, the fleet could be much larger by then – and that’s just in the US. In December 2018, ATSG agreed to lease and operate at least ten more 767Fs, and up to twenty-seven additional freighters for Amazon – which could put the total fleet at 87. Additionally, Cargo Facts would not be surprised if Amazon formalizes its European air operations by 2021.
Ireland-based ASL Aviation Holdings placed a firm order for ten 737-800BCFs with purchase rights for an additional ten, in a memorandum of understanding signed with Boeing at the Paris Air Show [FATs 004986-5005].
While these will be the first 737-800BCFs to be owned by ASL itself, the company has, since last year, already been operating two -800BCFs throughout Europe under its Liege-based Belgian subsidiary on behalf of express customer FedEx. Both units (32580 and 32610) are on lease from GECAS. ASL didn’t specify where the new freighters would be based, but Cargo Facts would expect that, regardless of the subsidiary operator, potential customers include FedEx and Amazon, based on past activity. ASL also operates a large fleet of 737-300F and 737-400Fs that will eventually need to be replaced. It is as yet unclear whether the new orders will be used to renew or augment ASL’s freighter fleet. Given the age profile of ASL’s current 737Fs, the 737-800BCFs could be used for a mix of both depending on the redelivery timeline.
ASL’s order further boosts the total number of orders and commitments for 737-800BCF conversions to 120 orders from eight customers, including GECAS, the largest customer for the program to date, with a backlog of thirty-four and options for twenty additional conversions.
Given the surge in orders, Boeing expects to more than double the number of 737-800BCF redeliveries from eight in 2018 to seventeen in 2019, indicating the company has resolved some of the usual teething issues initially encountered during the start of a new program. To date, a total of fourteen -800BCFs have been redelivered. Looking ahead, Boeing says it may consider adding more conversion lines to meet demand for the aircraft.
EFW nabs A321P2F order San Francisco-based lessor BBAM signed a letter of intent with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) for one A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion yesterday [FAT 005020].
The order represents EFW’s first order for its A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion program since Luxembourg-based Vallair placed a ten-aircraft launch order last February. As for BBAM, this is the company’s first commitment to a freighter-converted A321. Cargo Facts believes the aircraft is a proof-of-concept for a BBAM client and that if the introduction of the aircraft proves successful, additional orders could follow. Presently, BBAM’s managed portfolio includes at least eight freighters in operation with six carriers. While BBAM manages thirty-nine A321-200s, it has not yet identified the airframe that will be converted. In the absence of any regulatory delays, EFW will induct a BBAM aircraft for conversion in mid-2020, and plans to take redelivery towards the end of next year.
Turning to EFW, the 60/40 joint venture between ST Aerospace Engineering and Airbus, the conversion has already inducted a conformity aircraft for conversion (835, ex-Onur Air) at ST Aerospace’s Seletar (XSP), which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019 [FAT 5026]. EFW expects to receive a supplemental type certificate by early next year, and could commence redeliveries shortly after. EFW first introduced its A321P2F and A320P2F conversion programs in 2015. The A321P2F offers fourteen container positions on the maindeck and ten on the lower deck, and is capable of carrying up to 27.9 tonnes over a range of 2,300 nautical miles.
Recent freighter aircraft transactions: Sichuan Airlines took delivery of its second of three A330-200Fs (1350) that went off lease with Qatar Airways earlier this year [FAT 001350]. Although the carrier took delivery of the first A330F earlier this month, it does not expect to launch operations with the aircraft until September.
Boeing delivered a 767-300F (65788) to UPS [FAT 005025]. The aircraft was ferried from Paine Field (PAE) to San Antonio (SAT), possibly for the installation of winglets.
US-based Jetran ordered three 757-200PCF conversions from Precision Aircraft Solutions. The three aircraft were recently acquired from American Airlines (24613, 24614, and 25296) [FATs 005011-5016]. Following conversion at Flightstar Aircraft Services in Jacksonville (VQQ) the aircraft will be redelivered to operator Spain-based Swiftair [FATS 005017-5020].
Boeing redelivered a 737-800BCF (32663, ex-Jet Airways) to GECAS [FATs 004936-4937].