South Korea-based Air Incheon has added to its fleet a third 737-800SF (28535, ex-Corendon Airlines).
The aircraft, on lease from Vx Capital, arrives just as Air Incheon moves away from 737 Classics, having removed its single 737-400F (24912) in early October. The 737-800F is now the only aircraft type in the carrier’s fleet.
Unit 28535, which arrived in Seoul (ICN) today, had landed in Kelowna (YLW) in January 2021 for conversion with Aeronautical Engineers Inc. at the KF Aerospace facility.
Earlier in the year, Air Incheon had leased units 30501 and 29917, both 737-800SFs, from BlackRock.
The fleet focus caps off a multiyear search for a suitable freighter fleet and business model. In 2016, Air Incheon agreed to lease three 737NG freighters converted by Israel Aerospace Industries from Spectre Air Capital. That deal never materialized.
More recently, the carrier in 2018 looked to longer-haul markets with the lease of a 767-300BDSF (25202) from ATSG West Leasing. For a period while the aircraft was in service, it operated on behalf of Samsung’s Cello logistics service on routes that connected Samsung production and manufacturing facilities in Vietnam and South Korea. A series of inopportune maintenance issues, however, forced Air Incheon to scrap its widebody plans and focus on remaining solvent.
With two — and soon to be three — 737-800Fs operating, the carrier’s business is again growing with a focus around narrowbody operations.
While Asiana and Korean Air operate sizable fleets of large widebody freighters, Air Incheon is the sole operator of narrowbody freighters in South Korea. Korean Air announced its takeover of Asiana in a $1.6 billion deal last November, but it remains unclear how the merger will impact the combined group’s freighter fleet. Korean Air does not expect to integrate Asiana’s fleet for at least two years, according to its second-quarter earnings release.
Air Incheon is now part of a select group of cargo and combination carriers that only operate 737NG freighters:
- Alaska Airlines has three 737-700BDSFs (30792, 30793, and 30794).
- Air Algerie has a single 737-800BCF (30202).
- SpiceJet leases three 737-700BDSFs (29042, 30512, and 29084) and two 737-800BCFs (30474 and 30475) from Spectre Air Capital.
- Sun Country Airlines operates twelve 737-800BCFs on a CMI basis for Amazon.
- S7 Airlines has leased two 737-800BCFs (33545 and 29939) from GECAS.
- Georgian Airways leased its first freighter, a 737-800SF (28231), from Aero Capital Solutions earlier this year.
- Fellow Georgia-based carrier MyWay Airlines also leased its first freighter, a 737-700BDSF (30513), from Spectre Air Capital this summer.
- Most recently, in August, Bulgaria-based Compass Cargo Airlines took delivery of its first freighter, a 737-800SF (28826), on lease from GA Telesis.
More will soon join that list, with Panama-based Copa Airlines and Russia-based NordStar each expecting the first of two 737-800BCFs by yearend, and Canada-based WestJet adding four 737-800BCFs in 2022.
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