Russia-based AirBridgeCargo (ABC) is cutting down the size of its 747 fleet by removing two leased production 747-400Fs.
The two aircraft (36784 and 36785, both ex-Nippon Cargo Airlines) are currently in Hong Kong (HKG), having arrived from Moscow (SVO) on April 9 and 13, respectively, after two months of storage. ABC confirmed to Cargo Facts that both were returned to their respective lessors as part of a fleet-restructuring plan.
ABC had added unit 36784 in March 2010, and 36785 in July 2010. They were the two youngest of the type in ABC’s fleet, which now has four -400Fs remaining (35233, 35237, 35420 and 35421). All four appear to still be active as they have flown in the past week.
Toward the end of 2019, ABC began negotiations with lessors to seek relief from its contractual obligations and sought to terminate agreements on up to five 747 freighters.
Given the current condition of the airfreight market, with large widebody freighters being reactivated to provide capacity, the respective lessors of units 36784 and 36785 should have little difficulty placing the frames with new operators. We expect to see the two 747Fs flying in different colors relatively soon.
ABC currently also has thirteen 747-8Fs, as well as four more -8Fs on order with Boeing through the Volga-Dnepr UK affiliate of parent Volga-Dnepr Group. While these four still appear on Boeing’s latest orders and deliveries summary, along with thirteen for UPS as of April 30, perhaps more telling is that Boeing also shows a reduction of four 747 orders. This is an adjustment to take into account the ASC 606 revenue recognition standard. Under this accounting standard, companies must consider additional criteria “beyond the existence of a firm contract to deliver,” according to Boeing, which suggests Boeing does not expect to deliver the four 747s to Volga-Dnepr.
The first of those four aircraft (63784) has already been built and been seen in ABC’s livery, most recently conducting a test flight in mid-April. But the 747 was reregistered to Boeing in late March, according to the Federal Aviation Administration registry. ABC declined to comment.
Additionally, ABC previously expected to introduce the 777F to its fleet this year as part of a sale-leaseback deal for three aircraft signed between DAE Capital and Volga-Dnepr Group in June 2019. The first aircraft (66623) should soon be emerging from the Boeing factory in Everett (PAE), but ABC declined to comment on its 777F plans.