AELF FlightService, a newly established division of Aircraft Engine Lease Finance (AELF), has kicked off its wet-leasing and charter business, flying a reconfigured A330-200 (700, ex-AtlasGlobal) to transport cargo on behalf of Ukraine-based Windrose Airlines and Ukraine’s national postal service.
AELF told Cargo Facts that, in addition to unit 700, three other A330-200s in its portfolio (466, 472 and 871) are also expected to soon start flying in a reconfigured layout with seats removed. Unit 472 (ex-I-Fly) recently completed a heavy check at the Atitech MRO facility in Naples (NAP) and has already been modified.
Unit 871 was purchased from Airbus, which used it as a demonstration aircraft and never installed a full interior on it. With only around 700 flight hours, unit 871 is completing its heavy check at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) facility in Tel Aviv (TLV) and will be outfitted with the auxiliary cargo STC, according to AELF.
Unit 700, which was removed from passenger service at the end of 2019 and brought to NAP in late February, will be flown for fourteen months from Kyiv (KBP) to cities such as New York (JFK) and Hong Kong (HKG). The aircraft is being operated by Malta-based Maleth-Aero, which has already been operating three A340-600s reconfigured for cargo, according to our Passenger-Freighter Database.
AELF, which previously only offered aircraft for dry lease, said it had begun planning the FlightService venture in mid-2019, and had been integrating a partnership with a U.S.-based ACMI operator and another in Europe predominantly for the passenger market. However, after the onset of the pandemic, that was no longer feasible and AELF opted to develop its own ACMI and charter business, partly looking to supplement the loss of belly capacity with passenger aircraft reconfigured as auxiliary freighters.
AELF told Cargo Facts it is “giving in-depth consideration” to expanding into the full-freighter market in the long term; the company is currently evaluating feedstock options for both 767s and A330-300s, and is in discussions with both Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) and IAI. AELF recently acquired a 1994 767-300ER (26260, ex-Blue Panorama Airlines) and may also look at converting the four A330-200s it already owns.
The status of an ACMI deal with 21 Air using two reconfigured A330-200s is unclear; the deal was announced at the end of August, with AELF saying it continues to explore mutually beneficial opportunities to work together with the North Carolina-based carrier.
Of the almost 200 passenger aircraft Cargo Facts has recorded being reconfigured by seat removal, around twenty have been A330-200s.