Air Belgium continues to grow its widebody freighter operations with the addition of a third 747-8F and a second A330-200P2F to its fleet.
The 747-8F, the 2014-vintage unit 60118, was previously in operation with Russia-based AirBridgeCargo but was the subject of a lawsuit and subsequently repossessed by lessor BOC Aviation.
After being ferried to San Bernardino, Calif., (SBD) in March 2022, the aircraft had been at Pinal Airpark (MZJ) in Marana, Ariz., since April. It was registered to Air Belgium this month, according to the Austrian aircraft registry [FATs 008428-8430].
Meanwhile, a freshly converted A330-200P2F (717, ex-Etihad) with Trent 700 engines was also reregistered to Air Belgium in the Austrian registry. The 2006-vintage aircraft, which has been at the ST Engineering facility in Singapore (SIN) since May 2022, had a post-conversion test flight Jan. 11.
Lessor Altavair confirmed to Cargo Facts that it has delivered unit 717 on lease to China-based Hongyuan Group, joining a sister aircraft (832) that completed conversion in 2022 and arrived in Brussels (BRU) in August [FATs 008425-8427].
Air Belgium began flying unit 832 in November on a CMI basis for Hongyuan, which holds a 49% stake in the Belgian carrier. The airline also operates two 2013-vintage, ex-Saudia 747-8Fs (37562 and 37563) for Hongyuan.
Air Belgium, which currently operates just one (1594) of CMA CGM’s four A330-200Fs, was not immediately available for comment.
Hongyuan Group is set to grow its freighter fleet further in the next several years, having ordered up to twenty 777-300ERSF conversions. The group told Cargo Facts in October 2022 that it intends to place the large widebodies with Air Belgium and Jiangxi Cargo Airlines for CMI operation.
Air Belgium’s recently acquired 747-8F is the latest aircraft to find a new home after being released because of the Russian sanctions. National Airlines has acquired an ex-AirBridgeCargo 747-400F (35237) and an ex-CargoLogicAir (33749) 747-400F, while Kalitta Charters II purchased a 737-400SF (28752) that was previously in operation with CargoLogic Germany.
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