Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group is set to take ownership of more of the 747-8Fs its affiliate AirBridgeCargo operates, after the group converted the operating lease of a second 747-8F from Voyager Aviation Holdings into a finance lease.
Volga-Dnepr and Voyager entered into a similar deal involving another 747-8F in December 2020.
Volga-Dnepr confirmed to Cargo Facts that the two 747-8Fs leased from Voyager are units 63695 and 63781, which the lessor — previously known as Intrepid Aviation — took new from Boeing in 2017.
Voyager told Cargo Facts that, as is typical of finance leases, each of the two 747-8Fs is now subject to a purchase option at the end of their respective leases.
Volga-Dnepr said it intends to exercise those options. The company also said that, as of Jan. 22, it has four 747-400Fs and five 747-8Fs under operational lease, with one being converted into a finance lease in the immediate future, and it is reviewing the possibility of restructuring the lease agreements for three more 747-8Fs on similar terms.
An option to purchase the underlying asset “that the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise” is one of the criteria under which a lease is classified as a finance lease, according to the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Another is the straight transfer of ownership — without an option — at the end of the lease term.
AirBridgeCargo’s total fleet currently stands at thirteen 747-8Fs, four 747-400Fs and one 777F. The latter, delivered last August, is being leased from DAE Capital under a sale-leaseback agreement, but an option to purchase the 777F also exists, according to Volga-Dnepr.
The financial health of Volga-Dnepr has stabilized amid the booming freighter market. In stark contrast, in late 2019, Volga-Dnepr sought to reduce the size of its 747 fleet and in early 2020 the group failed to take delivery of the first of four 747-8Fs — which eventually led to Atlas Air’s recent order for the final four 747 frames.
Volga-Dnepr still has six more 777Fs on firm order with Boeing, as of Dec. 31, 2020.