A 747-400F (30762, ex-China Airlines) will soon join the ASL Airlines Belgium fleet, Cargo Facts has learned [FAT 005217]. Previously the aircraft had been in long-term storage at Victorville (VCV), where China Airlines has two other 747-400Fs in storage (30760 and 30761).
The reactivation pushes the stored 747-400F fleet even lower. Cargo Facts estimates there are now just four 747-400F production freighters in storage, including the two China Airlines units.
An ASL Group spokesperson confirmed, “The aircraft is leased from China Airlines and is the first replacement for the off-lease 747-400Fs. It is part of an ongoing fleet replacement/renewal program that includes ‘similarly capable’ widebody aircraft and 737-800BCFs.”
Earlier this year, three 747-400ERFs previously operated by ASL Belgium left the fleet upon expiry of various leasing agreements. Those three aircraft (35232, 35234 and 35236) are now operated by Cargolux.
According to the Austrian aircraft registry, unit 30762, previously registered B-18705, has now been assigned the registration OE-ILC, with ASL Airlines Belgium as the operator. The 747-400F is currently in Taipei (TPE) where it has just been repainted in ASL colors. The aircraft carried out a five-hour test flight around Taiwan on Oct. 14 and is being prepared to be ferried to Europe.
30762 exited long-term storage and was ferried to China Airlines’ TPE hub on Aug. 5, 2019. Cargo Facts believed that the aircraft would likely be leased or sold to a third party following heavy maintenance. In the past, China Airlines has leased aircraft to third-parties – both 30761 and 30762 were operated by Yangtze River Express (now known as Suparna Airlines) for several years prior to being parked. For now, unit 30761 remains in long-term storage along with 30760. We would not be surprised if either or both stored units follow the flight path of 30762 over to Belgium.
China Airlines, meanwhile, continues to operate a fleet of eighteen active 747-400Fs. Starting next year, the carrier will begin taking delivery of the six 777Fs it has on order with Boeing. The carrier previously told Cargo Facts that it intends to keep its freighter fleet unchanged at eighteen units, meaning that when the 777Fs begin arriving, 747-400Fs will be withdrawn from service on a one-for-one basis.