Australian carrier Qantas has signed a letter of intent with Keystone Holdings to convert and lease an A321P2F, the airline’s second freighter of the kind. The aircraft is expected to be redelivered by the end of 2021, after conversion at the ST Aerospace facility in Singapore (XSP) by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a joint venture between ST Aerospace and Airbus.
Keystone Holdings is a 50-50 joint venture between ST Aerospace and SJ Aviation Capital, a Singapore-based subsidiary of the Japan-based Sojitz Corporation. SJ Aviation acquired its stake from ST Aerospace in 2016.
According to ST Aerospace, the aircraft is currently on lease to Qantas Group for passenger service. Based on the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) aircraft register, the A321 to be converted into freighter configuration is unit 1408, a nineteen-year-old frame, in service with Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary Jetstar since joining the fleet in 2008. The unit is owned by Keystone 1 Limited, a wholly owned U.K.-based subsidiary of Keystone Holdings.
Qantas announced in August 2019 it would introduce up to three A321P2Fs as part of an expanded seven-year agreement signed with Australia Post. The carrier is set to be the launch operator of the type when the first aircraft enters into service in October.
The first aircraft is unit 835 (ex-Onur Air), which began flight tests in January and will be redelivered to Luxembourg-based Vallair. EFW told Cargo Facts that flight testing has been completed and the STC from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is expected by the end of this quarter.
The Qantas A321P2Fs will be operated by wholly owned subsidiary Express Freighters Australia, which also flies four 737-300Fs, one 737-400F and one 767-300F for the carrier. As for Jetstar, apart from one other nineteen-year-old A321-200 (1195) that could be a suitable candidate for conversion, the airline’s six other A321s are only between three and eleven years old.