Last week we reported that Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways had parked all five of its A330-200Fs at the end of 2017. At first glance, this did not significantly change the main-deck capacity offered by the Middle East’s four major carriers, because it came just after Saudia reactivated its four owned 777Fs – which had been parked for most of the year.
But a closer look at Saudia’s freighter fleet shows that parking the 777Fs was just one part of a capacity-reduction program begun at the end of 2015, and their reactivation comes nowhere close to replacing the capacity cut over the previous two years. Here is a timeline:
- 2015: Saudia cargo operated two owned 747-8Fs and four owned 777Fs. In addition, the carrier ACMI-leased a total of eleven 747-400 freighters (mostly converted passenger units) from Air Atlanta Icelandic and myCargo Airlines. A total of seventeen large widebody freighters.
- Year-end 2015: At the close of the year, Saudia returned three of its ACMI-leased 747-400 freighters to the lessors, reducing its fleet from seventeen to fourteen freighters.
- 2016: For most of 2016, Saudia’s freighter fleet stayed relatively unchanged. One 747 freighter was returned to the Air Atlanta, but this was replaced with one leased from myCargo.
- Year-end 2016: In December, Saudia parked one of its 777Fs, the beginning of the real capacity cutting.
- 2017: The year just ended saw major changes to the Saudia freighter fleet. The carrier parked its remaining 777Fs, both of its 747-8Fs, and returned two leased 747-400 freighters to Air Atlanta. In addition, it stopped operating two 747-400ERFs leased from myCargo – these two appear to remain on lease, but have not flown for some time.
- Year-end 2017: At the end of the third quarter of 2017, Saudia Cargo operated just six freighters – all 747-400s ACMI leased from Air Atlanta and myCargo. But in October it began bringing the parked 777Fs back into service.
- 2018: As we write this in late January 2018, Saudia has reactivated all four of its 777Fs, and now operates a total of ten freighters.
So, yes, the return to service of Saudia’s four 777Fs nicely balances the parking of Etihad’s five A330-200Fs, but Saudia’s freighter fleet has shrunk considerably over the last two years.
Interested in learning more about the future of the worldwide freighter fleet? Then join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2018, where our sister company Air Cargo Management Group will release the 2018 edition of its “Twenty Year Freighter Forecast.
Cargo Facts Asia will be held 23-25 April, at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com