SHANGHAI — Turkish Airlines yesterday signed a firm order with Airbus for four more A330-200 Freighters.
Not the most surprising news in the history of air freight, as the carrier had earlier announced in a statement to the country’s financial regulator that it had received Board approval for its 2015 budget, which appeared to include a provision to increase the carrier’s freighter fleet. And since the core of Turkish’s current fleet is five owned A330-200Fs, we expected an order for more would be announced some time this year.
However, while the order itself may not be surprising, a very brief disclosure in the investor relations section of the Turkish Airlines website contains the interesting comment that the four freighters will be delivered in April 2015, April 2016, October 2016, and January 2017.
April 2015 is now only a few weeks away, and while we have great respect for Airbus’ production capabilities, not even they can produce a medium widebody freighter in four weeks.
So, where is that first freighter coming from?
We expect from the same source that Boeing will provide a 747-8F to Silk Way on short notice – a freighter originally ordered by another customer, but which that other customer no longer wants. Or no longer wants right now.
In the case of the Turkish A330-200F, this would likely be the freighter built last year for the Synergy Group (parent of Avianca and Avianca Brazil), but which was not delivered and was recently advertised as for sale or lease by a European investment group.
Turkish currently operates five A330-200Fs and three A310-300Fs of its own, and ACMI leases a sixth A330-200F from Malaysian Airlines. We expect the carrier will phase out the A310s as the new A330 freighters enter the fleet. Additionally, we do not expect Turkish to pursue any converted freighters should it look to add further to its fleet.