ACMI and charter airline Air Atlanta Icelandic said it would enact a series of fleet modernization initiatives in the coming years as its ageing 747s exit service, the company announced in a statement yesterday, concurrently with a number of organizational changes.
Although clear replacement options have emerged for passenger-configured 747-400s, Air Atlanta Icelandic’s freighter fleet is yet another reminder of the looming uncertainty regarding the availability of cost-effective widebody freighters. “The availability of good 747-400s is limited and our existing fleet will start to fade out gradually in a few years’ time,” said the company’s newly-appointed CEO, Baldvin Hermannsson.
At present, the carrier’s fleet comprises of seven passenger-configured 747-400s, and five freighters; three 747-400BDSFs, one 747-400BCF, and a single 747-400F. Unndór Jónsson, VP Sales & Marketing confirmed to ch-aviation that AAI’s passenger 747s, which, are currently operating for Saudi Arabian Airlines, would be phased-out ahead of the freighters within 3-5 years, and are likely to be replaced with 777s or possibly A330s.
Air Atlanta Icelandic’s five cargo-configured 747-400s, in service with customers like UK-based Magma Aviation and Kenya-based Astral Aviation, meanwhile, will likely face a later retirement date. Without an active widebody passenger-to-freighter conversion program, no clear replacement option currently exists for Air Atlanta Icelandic’s ageing freighter fleet. Bedek and Boeing have long been considering the feasibility of a p2f program based on the 777 platform, but it remains to be seen how soon such a program could launch and, realistically begin to redeliver conversions at a price acceptable to general cargo carriers.
Turning now to Iceland’s other freighter operator, Gunnar Sigurfinnson, CCO, Icelandair Cargo, recently confirmed to Cargo Facts that Icelandair Cargo plans to make no changes to its two-unit 757-200PCF fleet until at least 2023. “We are constantly using more bellyspace to transport our goods,” said Sigurfinnsson.