Canada-based Avmax took redelivery of the first of two combi-to-freighter converted 737-400Fs (25099, ex-Alaska Airlines) it has on order with PEMCO World Air Services. Avmax tells Cargo Facts that a second 737-400C (25100) has also been converted to full-freighter configuration and that it is considering full-freighter conversion as an option for the remaining three 737-400 Combis in its portfolio.
Starting with the first redelivery, although the operator of 25099 has not yet been released, the aircraft was recently ferried from PEMCO’s MRO facility in Tampa (TPA) to Hawaii, via San Bernardino (SBD) and San Jose (SJC). Cargo Facts expects the aircraft is likely to end up operating on behalf of an express carrier in North or Southeast Asia – though the next leg of the ferry flight will provide more clarity regarding the freighter’s future operator.
The freighter-converted combis are two of five ex-Alaska 737-400 combis the lessor acquired in May 2018 [FAT 004430]. The other three combis (25101, 25102 and 27082), meanwhile, remain in storage. Combis have always been utilized in niche roles, and with Alaska Airlines having opted for full freighters, there is now one fewer operator of the aircraft type. Given the soft demand for a 737-400 in combi configuration, Avnax says it sees conversion to full-freighter as options for the remaining three aircraft in its portfolio.
Looking ahead to the prospects for narrowbody aircraft in combi configuration, despite the limited success of 737-400 combis, PEMCO will offer various combi options for its 737-700 FlexCombi conversion program. Although most carriers evaluating 737-700 freighters are expected to opt for full-freighter configuration, the “Flex” will offer two combi configurations: A twenty-four-passenger cabin with six pallet positions configuration and a twelve-passenger cabin with seven pallet positions. PEMCO launched the conversion program in April 2017, when it also announced Bahrain-based Chisholm Enterprises, the parent of charter operator Texel Air, as the launch customer for the combi aircraft. The first 737-700 FlexCombi has been converted and is now awaiting STC-type certification by the FAA, a process which has encountered delays from the shutdown of the United States federal government earlier this year, and more recently from the FAA’s focus on recertifying the grounded 737 MAX.
Interested in how the global freighter fleet will develop over the next 20 years? The Cargo Facts Consulting 2019 Freighter Forecast is available now. Visit www.cfcinsights.com for more information. Those who purchase the Report prior to 17 June will also gain access to a live webinar with Cargo Facts Consulting Managing Director and report author, Frederic Horst.