Yesterday’s post looked at the overall changes to the structure of the fleet in the last year. Today we turn from aircraft types to operators, and tomorrow we will look at trends that will shape the freighter fleet in years ahead.
As shown in the chart at the bottom of this post, at the beginning of March 2016, the widebody freight fleet included 995 units of 18 types, operated by a total of 79 carriers. This is down from 85 carriers last year, as twelve carriers have ceased widebody freighter operation (or gone out of business altogether), seven new carriers have entered the list, and a few names have changed (including the consolidation of two of last year’s carriers into one name in our chart).
Gone from last year are:
- AG Air: The Georgia-based carrier ended operations. Its two A300B4Fs did not disappear, but are now operated by another Georgian carrier known as The Cargo Airlines.
- Blue Sky Aviation Services: The United Arab Emirates-based startup took its first freighter, an A300-600F, in 2014, but did not stay in business very long.
- Florida West International Airways: This US-based carrier operated three 767-300Fs in 2014, but as we enter 2016, it no longer owns or leases any aircraft. However, it is still in business, operating three 767-300Fs for LAN Cargo on an interchange basis.
- Kelowna Flightcraft: When this Canadian carrier lost its long-standing contract to fly for Canada Post/Purolator, it put its three DC-10-30Fs into trans-Atlantic service under the KF Cargo brand. However, in early 2016, KF Cargo parked all three, saying that overabundant belly space on the trans-Atlantic made freighter operation unprofitable.
- Midex Airlines: UAE-based Midex had been shrinking for several years. It has now finally disappeared altogether.
- Nordic Global Airlines: When Finnair decided to exit the main-deck freight business, Nordic Global’s days as an ACMI operator were numbered.
- Rio Linhas Aéreas: Brazil-based Rio is still in business, but its brief flirtation with widebody operation has ended.
- Services Air: This carrier is still in business, but now operates just two 727-200Fs from its base in Congo Kinshasa.
- Thai Airways International: Thailand’s flag carrier still carries belly cargo, but parked its two 747-400BCFs.
- Tristar Air: Cairo-based Tristar lost its single A300B4F in a crash last year.
- Veteran Avia: This Armenian carrier, which operated a single 747-200F, went out of business.
- Vision Air International: Last year, Pakistan-based Vision Air had two 747-400Fs and one 747-200F, but it now operates just one 737-200F and one 737-300QC.
New to the list this year are:
- Aerotrans Cargo: This Moldovan carrier made the leap from operating a single Saab 340F to widebody operation with the addition of an ex-AG Air 747-400BDSF.
- CargoLogicAir: A little sister for AirBridgeCargo, CargoLogicAir is operating its first freighter, a 747-400F, on an ACMI-basis for the Russian carrier. It plans to add four more 747 freighters in the next two years.
- DHL International Aviation Middle East: Hardly a new name, but now operating 767-200Fs on its own behalf, rather than ACMI-leasing them.
- Solinair: Back in the widebody business after a year’s absence, with one A300-600F.
- South Airlines: Armenia-registered, but UAE-based, South Airlines acquired two 747-200Fs formerly operated by The Cargo Airlines.
- SF Airlines: The air arm of Shenzhen-based SF Express became the first Chinese express carrier to operate its own widebody freighters when it took redelivery of the first of five 767-300BCFs.
- Transavia Export: Belarus-based Transavia is the latest to jump on the merry-go-round of appearing and disappearing carriers from the Middle East and Caspian Regions. It acquired two 747-200Fs – one ex-Veteran Avia, one ex-Aerospace One.
In addition to the above entrances and exits, we have made a couple of name changes, now showing ABX Air and Air Transport International under the umbrella of parent Air Transport Services Group. Likewise, the former Air Contractors, rebranded as ASL Airlines Ireland, is shown under the ASL Group.
Not shown on the charts are carriers that lease widebody freighters on an ACMI basis, but do not operate any on their own behalf. This includes carriers such as Astral Aviation, which ACMI-leases a 747-400F from Atlas Air. For carriers that both operate their own freighters, and also ACMI-lease additional lift, we show only the carrier’s own freighters. Etihad Airways, for example, is shown with four 777Fs and four A330-200Fs, but it also ACMI-leases a 747-8F and two 747-400Fs from Atlas. Regarding aircraft operated on a CMI basis (Crew, Maintenance and Insurance), we show these in the fleet of the carrier that flies them. DHL Express, for example, has nine 767-200Fs and five 777Fs, but these are operated by Atlas Air and Southern Air, respectively, and we show them in the Atlas and Southern fleets. Also not shown on the charts are the An-124s used in commercial charter service, all but one of which are in the fleets of Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
Tomorrow we will look at the trends that will shape the fleet in the years ahead.