Nigeria-based Allied Air placed an order with AEI for the conversion of two 737-800s to freighter configuration. The deal, announced by AEI this week, also includes options exercisable for another two conversions [FATs 005341-5342].
The order comes as a welcomed boost for AEI’s 737-800SF conversion program, and is the first firm order AEI has announced since redelivering the conformity aircraft to launch customer GECAS in March of last year.
Responding to the tight feedstock supply for 737-800s resulting from the worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX, many carriers have delayed plans to add to their fleets freighter-converted 737NGs. The feedstock supply for the airframe is expected to remain tight for two to three years, according to speakers at Cargo Facts EMEA 2020 last month in Frankfurt. As Allied’s order indicates, however, some 737-800s are becoming available.
Feedstock for Allied’s first conversion is an ex-Air China airframe (36746). AEI expects to induct the aircraft at the Commercial Jet facility in Miami later this month. The carrier has not specified if the new conversions will replace existing freighters in its fleet, or represent net additions. Allied currently operates a trio of AEI-converted 737-400SFs for customers like DHL and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Among the three aircraft, the oldest unit rolled off Boeing’s assembly line in 1989, and has been operating as a freighter in Allied’s fleet since 2012. In contrast, the ex-Air China 737-800 is just over ten years in age, younger than any other freighter-converted 737-800s in service. Allied also ACMI-leases MD-11F capacity from Western Global Airlines, according to flight-tracking databases.
AEI’s backlog for 737-800SF conversions numbers 111 orders and options, including:
- GECAS: eighteen units, likely eight firm and ten options;
- Aviation Capital Group: fifteen firm orders and fifteen options;
- Allied Air: two orders and two options.
The 737-800SF program received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the FAA in February 2019. Two 737-800SFs are currently in operation with Ethiopian Airlines.