Cargo Aftermarket Heats Up In Europe

Lufthansa SAF cargo aircraft in flight
Cargo demand is expected to climb in both Europe and beyond over the coming years.
Credit: Lufthansa Cargo

Airlines around the world have rapidly adapted their operations to perform more cargo flights, with Europe this week the focus of industry efforts to support the new paradigm.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) led the news with a partnering with Atitech to establish a narrowbody conversion centre in Naples for the Boeing 737-700 and -800.

“Today, IAI’s converted freighter aircraft serve the world’s largest cargo companies, and most of the e-commerce market,” said IAI executive vice-president Yossi Melamed. “Atitech MRO was selected as a business partner to provide a solution to the European market among other markets as well.”

Separately, Lufthansa Cargo revealed plans to convert Airbus A321 passenger aircraft into dedicated freighters, with two aircraft in line for conversion initially.

The A321P2F has a payload of 28 tons with a range of 3,500 kilometers. The conversion allows the use of standardized cargo pallets on the main deck as well. 
And for airlines seeking a quicker fix, this week FL Technics received an EASA supplemental type certificate to modify 737 passenger aircraft for temporary cargo operations.

FL Technics said there were “50-70” application for such an STC which – combined with the other developments highlighted above – underlines the importance of narrowbody cargo services, as well as the growing consensus that much of the rise in e-commerce wrought by the pandemic is here to stay.

“The growth for cross-border eCommerce shipments is forecast at around 20% per year for the next five years,” stated Lufthansa Cargo, adding: “Consumers expect ever shorter delivery times for their ordered goods. This is also increasing the demand for air freight connections within Europe.”

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.