In what may seem like a rather unconventional platform on which to trade aircraft, in a move to reduce debt leverage, Uzbekistan Airways has put out a notice on its official Facebook page announcing an upcoming tender for eighteen aircraft aged fifteen-plus years. A pair of 767-300BCFs (28370 and 28392), both less than twenty-three years of age, and two 767-300ERs, aged fifteen and sixteen years respectively, are included among the aircraft on offer. The carrier also plans to part ways with two of its five 757-200s, and though no MSNs have been provided, the entirety of Uzbekistan Airways’ 757 fleet was minted about twenty years ago.
Even in the face of current air cargo market headwinds, competition for the feedstock and freighters is expected to be fierce. Last year, when ATSG secured rights to twenty 767-300ERs coming out of American Airlines’ passenger fleet in the coming years, other bidders were left empty-handed. Since then, most 767-300ERs to hit the market have been in batches of one or two units. China-based SF Airlines was one carrier reported to have been interested in the twenty-unit batch of AA 767-300ERs, and is likely unaffected by the fact that all of Uzbekistan’s 767s are powered by Pratt & Whitney PW400s. Although General Electric CF6 engines are overwhelmingly the more popular option as powerplants for freighter-converted 767-300Fs, some carriers have been willing to operate 767F fleets with mixed engine types. Of SF’s eight 767-300BCFs, two are Pratt-powered.
Uzbekistan’s five Il-76TDs and seven Il-114s on offer, meanwhile, might not move as fast.
As for the freighter capacity Uzebekistan Airways would lose were it to offload the pair of 767-300BCFs, it’s unclear at this point if the freighters would be replaced, or if the carrier’s cargo strategy would shift to a focus on bellyhold capacity. This year, the carrier has taken delivery of three 787-8s, some of which are already in use on routes that overlap with the carrier’s freighter flights. According to flight-tracking data, recent 767-300BCF flights have connected the carrier’s hub in Tashkent (TAS) with London (STN), Zurich (ZRH) and Doha (DOH). Upgauging a 767-300ER to a 787-8 would increase a flight’s maximum cargo capacity by 4.7 tonnes, to 23.3 tonnes. Although most 787-8 passenger flights are unable to carry near the maximum cargo payload, shorter-range flights like TAS to LON (2848 nautical miles) have the potential for larger hauls.