U.K.-based Titan Airways has taken delivery of its first A321-200F, on lease from BBAM.
The aircraft (1238, ex-Thomas Cook) is also the second A321P2F to be completed by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) and had been inducted for conversion at the ST Engineering facility in Singapore (XSP) in January 2020.
Titan told Cargo Facts that it plans to deploy the A321 on the route between Stansted (STN) and Belfast (BFS) — a flight operated on behalf of the Royal Mail and currently being flown by Titan’s 737-400Fs.
Redelivery had previously been expected around the end of 2020. It is unclear what caused the delay, but at such an early stage in the A321P2F’s service life, encountering faults or other issues is not entirely unusual.
Titan said it expects to take a second A321F by the end of January. That aircraft (1250, ex-Thomas Cook), also leased from BBAM, was inducted last March and had already been painted into Titan’s colors by late 2020.
EFW confirmed during Cargo Facts Symposium in October 2020 that, unlike the prototype aircraft (835, ex-Onur Air) — delivered to Vallair in October and now in service with launch operator Qantas — unit 1238 and all following A321 conversions feature an increased gross payload of 28 tonnes.
BBAM now becomes the only lessor to have both A321 and 737NG freighter conversions placed with customers, and remains the only lessor known to have ordered both next-generation narrowbody freighter types so far.
Titan is due to add a third A321F; the carrier told Cargo Facts last May that it had committed to a conversion slot for an owned A321-200 (2060, ex-Thomas Cook Airlines) in 2021 with EFW. No firm agreements have been made for further additions, although Titan may consider a fourth conversion in 2022.
As part of its long-term strategy, Titan will transition to an all-Airbus fleet, but the carrier plans to operate its two 737-400SFs (25844 and 25853, both ex-British Airways) until at least around 2023.
In December, Qantas grounded unit 835 for about two weeks due to what sources said was a landing gear issue that does not seem to be related to unit 1238’s delay.