The first two 737-800BCFs slated to join the Southern Air fleet and operate on behalf of Amazon Air‘s United States operation left China following conversion to freighter configuration by Boeing, and have been gradually ferried to Jacksonville (VQQ) over the past week.
Although both aircraft were Boeing conversions, touch labor was performed by two different MROs. The first aircraft was converted by Boeing at the STAECO facility in Jinan (32882), while the second (32611) was converted by Boeing Shanghai. Prior to conversion, both aircraft operated in China Southern’s fleet.
While en route to Jacksonville, a planespotter on Twitter snapped a photo of 32611 during a stopover in Anchorage.
The 2nd Amazon Prime Air 737-800BCF just arrived in Anchorage this morning on its way from China to the U.S. It is temporarily registered N843DM but will become N5113A. I think the new paint scheme looks good under the lights. #avgeek pic.twitter.com/30PLuU43b1
— Chris Spradlin (@747400Pilot) April 9, 2019
Last month, Atlas said in a statement that over the course of 2019, Amazon will lease at least five aircraft “from a third party,” to be operated on a CMI basis by Southern Air. The initial CMI agreement will run for ten years, with an option for Amazon to extend the agreement by another three years. Amazon may also place up to fifteen additional 737-800Fs in service with Southern Air by 31 May, 2021, according to the statement. As for the identity of the lessor, Cargo Facts reported that with a 200+ unit portfolio of 737-800 passenger aircraft, and a large backlog of 737-800 conversion orders with AEI and Boeing, GECAS is the only lessor currently positioned to meet Amazon’s demand for up to twenty 737-800F conversions within three years.
Regarding the other three 737-800 conversions bound for the Southern Air fleet in 2019, no other -800BCFs have emerged in Prime Air Livery. Based on fleet-tracking data from FlightRadar24, however, it appears that a third aircraft (32663, ex-Jet Airways) was recently inducted for conversion at Boeing Shanghai. GECAS also has a number of other 737-800 airframes stored in China. Cargo Facts believes the sister ship of the aircraft recently converted in Jinan (32884, ex-China Southern) will soon be inducted for conversion and is destined for the Amazon Air fleet.
Those interested in learning more about narrowbody freighter conversions are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 at the Langham Shanghai. Damien Trottier, Vice President Airline & Fleet Strategy, GECAS will present on the topic of “Enabling Asia’s E-commerce Growth.”
For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.