Ethiopian Airlines is nearing delivery of its third 737-800SF and expects the aircraft to arrive at its hub in Addis Ababa (ADD) around Wednesday, the carrier confirmed to Cargo Facts.
The 2002-vintage 737 (32903, ex-Pegasus) is owned by Florida-headquartered GA Telesis, and is the lessor’s first NG conversion. It was sent to Miami (MIA) in August 2020 ahead of induction for conversion by Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) at the Commercial Jet facility, and flew to Dothan (DHN) in mid-February for post-conversion modifications and paint.
Ethiopian told Cargo Facts that it plans to receive a fourth 737-800F around May 2021 but did not identify a specific frame.
GA Telesis, which announced its conversion order with AEI last July and exercised an option for a second 737-800SF conversion in September, told Cargo Facts in late February that it had identified a shortlist of customers for that aircraft (28826, ex-Blue Air). That conversion began in January at MIA. GA Telesis also said it is looking to add more 737-800 freighters to its portfolio and will convert more with AEI.
In the past year, at least seven different lessors have entered the 737-800 conversion market, with the latest being Macquarie AirFinance. While some, like GA Telesis and Vx Capital, did not have commitments secured at the time of the conversion order, others did already have customers lined up for some of the frames heading into conversion. Aero Capital Solutions, for example, which ordered four 737-800SF conversions with AEI last year, told Cargo Facts at the time that it had secured a customer for the first aircraft (28231, ex-Smartwings). The lessor topped up last year’s order with ten more conversions this February, and said that it will soon also place its second 737-800SF (28655, ex-Eastar Jet) with a different customer.
Returning to Ethiopian, the addition of the two 737-800Fs takes the carrier’s freighter fleet to thirteen, including nine 777Fs and four 737-800Fs. Ethiopian also told Cargo Facts that it expects its first 767-300F this winter.
Ethiopian had said last year that it intended to add one new 777F, three freighter-converted 767Fs, and two 737Fs. The airline was the launch operator of AEI’s 737-800SF program, taking delivery of two aircraft (29121, ex-Corendon Airlines, and 32613, ex-China Southern Airlines) on lease from GECAS in 2019.
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