Dubai-based Emirates is looking at the 777-300ERSF as its next freighter type to grow its maindeck capacity as the carrier potentially phases out more of its 777Fs and as more 777-300ERs leave the passenger fleet to serve as feedstock frames.
Hiran Perera, SVP of cargo planning and freighters at Emirates, told Cargo Facts that the carrier has been in discussions with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and GECAS for some time, and that the priority now is to work through the detailed performance specifications and technical evaluations before proceeding with a decision. He added that there is little choice when it comes to large widebody freighters.
Even if Emirates signs on to become the second operator of the 777-300ERSF behind Kalitta Air, the first frames will not arrive before 2023. By then, Emirates will have at least one fewer freighter than it does now; Perera confirmed that Emirates will not renew the lease on unit 35612, a 777F it received new in August 2011 on lease from DAE Capital, and that the aircraft will exit the fleet around August 2021, leaving Emirates with ten 777Fs.
Cargo Facts believes unit 35612 could be destined for Lufthansa Cargo, which expects to add a tenth 777F this fall.
This will be the third 777F Emirates has removed after a ten-year lease. In 2019, the airline returned two 777Fs, with unit 35606 now in service with Southern Air and unit 35607 joining Kalitta Air. Assuming the rest of Emirates’ 777Fs are also on ten-year leases, four units will be up for renewal in 2022. Perera said the company still has some time to decide.
Perera did not say how large a potential 777-300ERSF contingent would be, but noted that Emirates will continue to utilize its belly capacity more efficiently and judiciously, particularly as new 777Xs and A350s join the passenger fleet.
Emirates leases many of its existing 777-300ERs from GECAS, which jointly announced the 777-300ERSF with IAI in October 2019, and is by far the largest operator of the type, currently with around 120 units. Since last summer, the carrier has been using some of its 777-300ERs as “mini freighters” with seats removed, including a few frames that have since been returned to GECAS, and is currently operating sixteen reconfigured 777-300ERs.
Perera also said that medium widebody freighters would not fit into Emirates’ network and operations.
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