As I write this in Seattle this morning, a 767-300ER, in Japan Airlines livery, is passing overhead, en route from Tokyo (HND) to Goodyear (GYR) in the US. However, while the livery might make you think this is a JAL aircraft, the registration tells a different story.
Until last month, the aircraft (33494) was registered as JA605J and was carrying passengers for Japan Airlines, but before long it will be carrying packages for UPS. As of 30 March, it was re-registered as N363UP. And today, new owner UPS is flying it to Goodyear, where it will pause briefly before flying off to whichever conversion center Boeing will use to convert it to BCF freighter configuration.
Did you think the demand for 767-300 passenger-to-freighter conversions would dry up once ATSG and Atlas had fulfilled their agreements to supply Amazon with forty freighters? Looks like time to think again, because if what we have heard is correct, this first conversion for UPS will be followed by many more.
It is possible, maybe even likely, that UPS would have preferred new-build 767-300Fs — after all, the fifty-nine 767-300Fs already in its fleet were all built as freighters. But, as we said when discussing the rumor that Amazon was negotiating with Boeing for a large number of 767 production freighters, the slots just aren’t there. Between FedEx and the United States Air Force, Boeing’s 767 production line is booked out for years. If you want a 767 freighter in the next five years, you’ll have to find a passenger unit and have it converted.
Those interested in learning more about the future market for freighter conversions should join us in Shanghai, 25-26 April, for Cargo Facts Asia, where executives from the leading conversion houses will discuss the future of both widebody and narrowbody freighter conversions in detail. To learn more, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.