ATSG Commits To Nine More EFW A330 P2F Conversions
Lessor Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) has committed to nine more conversion slots for the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), the conversion joint venture between ST Engineering and Airbus.
The latest contract means Wilmington, Ohio-based ATSG is now set to receive 29 of the converted widebody freighter from EFW.
The aircraft will add to and diversify ATSG’s existing in-service fleet of 117 aircraft. For EFW, the agreement is the latest in a series of announcements in the past few weeks: wet-lease and cargo operator SmartLynx recently ordered six A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversions from the JV; and lessor CDB Aviation secured conversion slots for 12 additional aircraft.
New freighters and P2F conversions are in the spotlight at the moment against a backdrop of squeezed air cargo capacity. Many long-haul passenger flights are still grounded as pandemic-related travel restrictions drag on resulting in a lack of belly-hold freight capacity, while demand for air cargo from sectors such as e-commerce continues to grow. Many airlines are re-evaluating their freighter strategy and shifting the balance toward freighter capacity. Responding to the market, Boeing and Airbus have both recently launched high-profile new freighter programs: the 777-8F and the A350F.
“The A330-300 passenger-to-freighter conversion is a natural next step for ATSG as it is an excellent complement to the Boeing 767-300 medium wide-body freighter, which has long been the freighter of choice for the e-commerce air cargo market,” ATSG Chief Commercial Officer Mike Berger says. “The availability of feedstock combined with impressive cargo capacity make the A330 a very attractive option for conversion and will enable ATSG to continue to meet the demands for full-capacity freighters long into the future. The customer response to the news that we will have A330-300 freighters available for lease has been exceptionally strong, and we already have customer deposits toward future leases for half of these 29 converted freighters.”
EFW CEO Andreas Sperl welcomed the increased commitment from ATSG, saying it was a “sign of confidence in next-generation Airbus freighters and trust in EFW’s competency as a center of excellence for Airbus freighter conversions.”
The A330P2F conversions for ATSG will be carried out from mid-2023 through 2027. Most will be performed at EFW’s facility in Dresden, Germany, but some will be converted at ST Engineering’s conversion sites in China. Multiple conversions will be carried out in parallel, EFW said.
The A330P2F program is a collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW. To meet the rising demand for freighter conversions, ST Engineering and EFW are setting up new conversion sites in China and the U.S. in 2022 and are ramping up conversion capacity for all their Airbus P2F program to about 60 slots per year by 2024.
The A330P2F program has two variants: the A330-200P2F and A330-300P2F. The A330-200P2F can carry a gross payload of up to 61 tons of weight over 7,700 km (4,158 nm). The A330-300P2F offers a gross payload of up to 63 tons and a containerized volume of up to around 18,500 ft.³ (524 m³). Following ATSG’s order, A330 conversion slots are fully booked through 2025.