A growing number of lessors have inducted or ordered 737-800 freighter conversions for the first time in 2020. Less visible are the operators that will ultimately take the aircraft. That too is starting to change.
Tunisia-based Express Air Cargo is one carrier looking to make the leap into NG freighters, and is seeking “immediate” availability. A 737-800 would enable the carrier to open regular additional scheduled cargo routes to central and western Africa, CEO Anis Riahi told Cargo Facts. For now, Express Air Cargo operates one 737-300QC (23836, ex-Yangtze River Express) and one 737-300F (24710, ex-Texel Air), primarily on routes bridging North Africa and Western Europe.
Even as deliveries of 737-800 freighters begin to accelerate, concerns of oversupply for 737-800Fs are likely overblown, at least in the near term. Two new entrants to 737-800 conversions with aircraft completing conversion very soon are BlackRock and Aircraft Finance Germany, while BBAM, which recently told Cargo Facts it had placed one unit (28608, ex-Air Italy) with Zhongyuan Longhao Airlines, has another aircraft (29052, ex-Aeromexico) that was completed by GAMECO in November. BBAM declined to comment on whether unit 29052 has also been placed.
Operators in multiple regions ranging from the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Africa are seriously considering the aircraft type.
Apart from the 737-800 freighter, Express Air Cargo is also looking to add a 767-300 freighter. A medium widebody freighter would enable the carrier to serve destinations in Asia and the Middle East from its hub in Tunis (TUN).