For much of the past year, carriers based in Africa, Europe and the Middle East — collectively the EMEA region — have transported less cargo by air compared to pre-pandemic times, and yet freighter fleet growth has intensified. Passenger flight frequencies remain significantly lower, dragging available lowerhold capacity on passenger aircraft, while the pandemic itself has catalyzed the growth of consumer behavior conducive to time-definite delivery.
Ahead of Cargo Facts EMEA 2021, here’s a two-part look at the fastest-growing fleets in the EMEA region from May 2020 to May 2021, starting with the widebody segment.
1. DHL Express
DHL Express has by far added the most widebody freighters to the EMEA-based fleet in the past twelve months, growing its capacity through three aircraft types.
The company continues to grow its fleet of A330-300 and 767 freighter conversions, having added three A330-300P2Fs and two 767-300Fs over the course of the past calendar year. Two of the A330-300P2Fs (231, ex-Thai Airways, and 116, ex-Malaysia Airlines) had previously been flying in DHL’s Asia-Pacific network with Air Hong Kong but joined the European fleet in July and November 2020, respectively. Unit 1107 (ex-Hong Kong Airlines) is a new conversion that Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) redelivered in April 2021.
To date, DHL has firm-ordered eight A330-300P2Fs with EFW, and has options for ten additional conversions.
In parallel with DHL’s A330 program, the express carrier pounced on some 767 opportunities, having placed conversion orders for three 767-300BDF conversions plus one option with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in June 2020, and an order for four 767-300BCF conversions with Boeing the following month.
DHL took redelivery of a 767-300BDSF (33087, ex-American Airlines) in December 2020 and this month took a second unit from the order announced last year (33086, ex-American Airlines). Both aircraft will operate in the fleet of one of the company’s own carriers, DHL International Aviation Middle East.
Since May 2020, DHL has taken delivery of five 777Fs and added three of them to its European fleet: unit 66086 in July 2020; unit 66088 in November 2020; and unit 66814 in April 2021.
Note that although DHL owns these A330s, 767s and 777s, the express integrator does not operate all of them through its own airlines. In Europe, for example, DHL has placed its 777Fs with Germany-based AeroLogic for CMI operation, while the first two A330-300P2Fs are currently with ASL Airlines Ireland.
DHL still has two more 777Fs on order that it will take this year, and in 2022 will also receive the first of at least eight more 777Fs under a new deal with Boeing, but it is currently unclear how many it will assign to its European fleet.
Hear from Geoff Kehr, SVP Global Air Fleet Management at DHL Express, at this year’s Cargo Facts EMEA, taking place June 2-3 as a virtual experience.
Moldova-based Aerotranscargo began reactivating freighter-converted 747-400Fs around March and April 2020, as the lack of cargo capacity quickly became apparent. The first aircraft (24459, ex-Thai) began flying in May 2020. Since then, the carrier has added two more
747-400BDSFs (25075 and 24998, both ex-Air Cargo Global) to its active fleet, and will soon have another ex-Thai 747-400BCF (24458) operational.
3. CMA CGM Air Cargo
French shipping line CMA CGM recently purchased four A330-200Fs from Qatar Airways and has placed them with Air Belgium for CMI operation, on behalf of its newly created CMA CGM Air Cargo division. Three aircraft (1688, 1708 and 1584) are now in service, with the fourth (1594) to follow shortly.
4. Qatar Airways
The entirety of the CMA CGM A330-200F fleet was previously operated by Qatar Airways, which is replacing medium-widebody freighters with incoming 777Fs. In December, Qatar received a trio of 777Fs (66340, 66341 and 66870). Two additional units have already completed final assembly (66871 and 66872) and are expected to be delivered shortly.
Overall, fleet diversification in the EMEA region will continue over the next several years for widebody freighters. Last year, Russia-based AirBridgeCargo added to its fleet the 777F platform, and in April, Azerbaijan-based Silk Way West placed an order for five 777Fs with Boeing. As both carriers have aging 747-400Fs in their fleets, the incoming freighters could accommodate either growth or replacement plans.
This two-part snapshot will continue tomorrow with narrowbody and regional freighters.
Cargo Facts EMEA, taking place June 2-3 as a virtual experience, is the event for exploring opportunity in the EMEA region. The event continues to bring together the best, brightest, and most innovative executives in the global air cargo industry. Learn more and register at www.cargofactsemea.com.