At the Singapore Air Show today, Luxembourg-based lessor Vallair confirmed it had placed a launch order with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) for ten A321 passenger-to-freighter conversions. The first aircraft is scheduled for induction in the fourth quarter of 2018, with redelivery planned by the end of 2019.
EFW, a 60/40 joint venture of ST Aerospace and Airbus, currently offers five passenger-to-freighter conversion programs:
- A330-300: EFW redelivered the first freighter-converted A330-300P2F to launch customer DHL in December. DHL has seven more on firm order.
- A330-200: Egyptair is currently the only customer for this program, and the first of its two conversions is now underway.
- A300-600: This long-standing and very successful program will likely end following conversion of the two units currently in conversion for China-based Uni-Top Airlines.
- A321: As noted above, the first of ten conversions for Vallair is scheduled for redelivery at the end of 2019.
- A320: EFW formally launched its A320 and A321 programs at the same time, but, so far at least, no launch customer has stepped up for the A320 — the smaller of the two aircraft.
Speaking at the announcement ceremony, Vallair President and CEO Gregoire Lebigot said: “We see a huge potential in the A321 P2F, not only as a replacement of the B757F, but as a key tool for the cargo industry to achieve the projected growth rate of the air freight market in general – in particular driven by express services and e-commerce.” He also reiterated something EFW has often said, that the A321P2F “will be the first [narrowbody] aircraft to introduce a containerized lower deck to the market: a significant game changer for any hub and spoke operation.”
Regarding the lower deck, the schematic at right illustrates why EFW claims that the A321P2F, while physically somewhat smaller than a 757-200 freighter, actually offers more usable cargo volume.
Interestingly, Vallair is also the launch customer for the only other A321 P-to-F program so far launched – that of 321 Precision Conversions, a joint venture of Precision Aircraft Solutions and Air Transport Services Group.
For an in-depth look at the world of narrowbody freighter conversions, join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2018 in Shanghai, 23 – 25 April, where executives from all the major conversion houses will participate in sessions covering both widebody and narrowbody freighters. To register, or for more information, go to CargoFactsAsia.com.