As carriers based in mainland China and other markets replace their 737 Classic freighters with newer types, including 737NGs, the process is fueling fleet growth and new startups elsewhere.
During the one-year period between mid-March 2020 and mid-March 2021, multiple carriers based in mainland China have removed from their fleets several 737-300Fs. China Postal Airlines and China Central Longhao Airlines have each stopped flying two 737-300Fs after replacing them on a 1:1 basis with 737-800BCFs, redelivered last year and early this year. Suparna Airlines, an affiliate of the beleaguered HNA Group, has also parked four of the type, with no replacement aircraft yet added to its AOC.
Indonesia is home to a range of carriers that could potentially absorb more of the Classics leaving Chinese fleets.
Turboprop and regional operator Rimbun Air added its first jet freighter at the end of February, with the arrival of a 1993-vintage 737-300F (26288) previously operated by China Postal Airlines. The aircraft arrived at the carrier’s base in Bandung (BDO) Feb. 28 and will be used both domestically and internationally, according to Rimbun’s website.
Meanwhile, Trigana Air is also preparing to put a reconfigured 737-300 (27925) with seats removed into service for Indonesian delivery company J&T Express.
Initial network plans will link Indonesia’s capital airport Jakarta (CGK) with Medan (KNO) and Batam (BTH), according to a release.
Unit 27925, recently given J&T branding, does not appear to have actively flown since January and is currently at Budiarto Airport (BTO) near Tangerang. J&T told Cargo Facts that the livery formalizes and builds on a commercial relationship it has had with Trigana for about two years. Given the capacity constraints brought about by the pandemic, the full charter of the 737 will help ensure timely and reliable deliveries.
J&T also said it is possible that it will expand these own-controlled operations to include full freighters operated by Trigana — which has four active 737-300Fs — or other carriers.
Garuda similarly began flying a reconfigured 737-500 (28727) last year through its regional subsidiary Citilink. Garuda ordered two 737-800BCFs from GECAS in 2020 and had recently told local media it was expecting its first freighter in March, but did not elaborate further on its freighter plans to Cargo Facts.
Pelita Air Service, which began operating two ATR 72-500Fs on behalf of Angkasa Pura Logistics last year, recently told Cargo Facts it is looking at 737-300Fs, -400Fs, and even -800Fs.
My Indo Airlines, which added its first 737-400F in 2019, currently has two 737-300Fs and a 737-400F, and told Cargo Facts that it plans to add another -300F or -400 later this year. The carrier said it will likely look at introducing 737-800Fs in 2022.
Tri-M.G. Intra Asia Airlines recently added its fifth 737-300F, but told Cargo Facts that, going forward, it will move on to 737-800Fs.
Central Airlines, which launched last year, has also added to its fleet three 737-300Fs: two previously operated by Suparna Airlines and one previously in service with Tianjin Air Cargo.
Two 737-300Fs YTO Cargo Airlines retired toward the end of 2020 have now joined Serve Air, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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