Ethiopian Airlines has at last taken redelivery of the first-ever 737-800SF (29121) following its conversion to freighter configuration by Aeronautical Engineers, Inc., at the Commercial Jet Facility in Miami. The aircraft is on lease from GECAS, which has at least nineteen orders and options for additional 737-800 conversions with AEI, while Ethiopian has also agreed to take a second -800SF from GECAS.
This is the first redelivery of a 737-800SF after AEI received its Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the FAA for the conversion last month. AEI’s receipt of its STC was delayed into 2019 following the partial shutdown of the US federal government that furloughed employees of the FAA and disrupted operations of the agency.
Ethiopian Airlines has focused on growing its cargo business through the addition of freighters under its Vision 2025 plan, which calls for nineteen dedicated freighter aircraft in its cargo fleet by 2025. The carrier is currently operating nine 777Fs and has at least one more of the type on-order with Boeing. While in the past Ethiopian operated narrowbody freighters, including 757-200Fs and a 737-400F, the newly converted -800SF will be the first narrowbody freighter to join the carrier’s current fleet.
Ethiopian’s current fleet of 777 freighters mainly serves the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions, but last year Ethiopian launched its first freighter service to Miami (MIA) by way of Spain (ZAZ), Colombia (BOG), and Belgium (LGG). The carrier said it will use its narrowbody freighters to improve the operating economics of its short-haul routes in Africa and the Middle East.
Following the first two redeliveries to Ethiopian Airlines, AEI’s order backlog for 737-800SF conversions includes firm orders and options for an estimated sixty-three units including:
- GECAS: eighteen units, likely eight firm and ten options
- Aviation Capital Group: fifteen firm orders and fifteen options
- Unidentified: fifteen
Those interested in learning more about demand for converted freighters are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.