CDB Aviation Converting A330s To Freighters To Meet Demand

Artist impression of A330-300F in CDB Aviation colors.
Credit: CDB Aviation

CDB Aviation, the Dublin-based arm of China Development Bank Financial Leasing, will convert a pair of Airbus A330-300 into freighters to meet expected future demand.

The passenger-to-freighter (P2F) work will be carried out in Dresden, Germany by Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW), a joint venture between Singapore Technologies Engineering and Airbus.

Conversions will begin from 2021 and the aircraft will be available for lease from early 2022. CDB Aviation told Aviation Daily that the A330-300s were formerly operated by China Southern Airlines and are part of the lessor’s existing fleet of 228 aircraft. 

CDB Aviation has 38 A330 aircraft in its portfolio, including five A330neos leased to Garuda Indonesia and TAP Portugal. The latest announcement is the lessor’s first freighter conversion. 

“We are seeing an increasing interest from our customers for medium-sized freighters, as they look to take advantage of record-high freighter utilization, rapidly growing e-commerce demand and higher cargo yields,” CDB Aviation CEO Patrick Hannigan said.

Passenger-to-freighter conversions have become increasingly popular because of a shortage of cargo capacity as a result of so many commercial airliners—and their belly hold capacity—being grounded by the COVID-19 crisis. IATA does not expect a return to the air traffic levels seen in 2019 until 2024.

The A330-300F has 26 main deck positions—three more than the -200 variant—and can carry 61 metric tonnes of cargo. According to Aviation Week Fleet Intelligence Network Fleet and Data Services, there are currently only four A330-300F freighters in service, all with Air Hong Kong.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.