A recent flurry of 737NG conversion activity over the past six months conceals robust demand for 737 Classic conversions of both the -300 and -400 variants.
While MRO facilities in China are busy converting 737-800s for both Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) and Boeing, six MROs across the Americas continue to convert and redeliver Classic freighters, with around five in progress and more on the way.
Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) subsidiary PEMCO, which recently completed two Automatic LLC 737-400s (28888 and 28889) joining Italy-based Poste Air Cargo, this week began working on a 737-300 for Plane Business Leasing at its own facility in Tampa (TPA). Cargo Facts believes this is either unit 28569 or 28869 and is destined for Colombia-based LAS Cargo.
Automatic has another 737-400 (25104, ex-Flair Airlines) at TPA. The lessor confirmed to Cargo Facts that a 737-300 (28054, ex-Mistral Air) previously in QC configuration has now also been converted to a full freighter by PEMCO at the COOPESA facility in San Jose (SJO) and will soon be placed on lease.
PEMCO’s Director of Cargo Conversions Mike Andrews told Cargo Facts that the company expects to redeliver between six and seven Classics in 2021, with unit 28889 being the first of the year. Apart from TPA and SJO, PEMCO also maintains access to the STAECO facility in Jinan (TNA), but Andrews said Classic conversions could taper off in 2022.
PEMCO recently also converted three ex-Alaska Airlines 737-400 Combis into full freighters for Avmax; one (25101) joined Mexico-based TUM AeroCarga toward the end of last year, but Cargo Facts would not be surprised to see the other two (25102 and 27082) following their sister frame as well. Avmax could not comment.
Meanwhile, AEI has four 737 Classics currently undergoing conversion: two 737-400s (28752, ex-LOT, and 24573, ex-Flair Airlines) for Vx Capital and KF Aerospace, respectively, at the KF Aerospace facility in Kelowna (YLW); another 737-400 (26280, ex-Juliet Romeo Aviation) for KF at the KF Aerospace facility in Hamilton (YHM); and a -300 (25607) for Nauru Airlines at the Commercial Jet facility in Miami (MIA).
Vx has two other 737-400SFs (27914 and 28753, ex-LOT) already completed at YLW; those aircraft may be joining Brazil-based Total Linhas Aereas, according to Brazilian reports.
In March, AEI is scheduled to begin converting the first of two 737-400s for Mexico-based Aeronaves TSM at the Commercial Jet facility in Dothan (DHN). The first aircraft (28150, ex-Comair) arrived at DHN in December 2020.
AEI is on track to deliver a minimum of one 737-300SF and six 737-400SFs in 2021, with “a good chance of delivering the same in 2022,” SVP of Sales and Marketing Bob Convey told Cargo Facts.
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