Air Algérie in the market for more freighters?

Air Algérie’s first freighter-converted 737-800BCF was unveiled at the STAECO facility in Jinan on 21 July 2018.

After receiving preliminary approval and a line of credit from Algeria’s National Investment Fund, Air Algérie (AH) is set to announce a tender call for the acquisition of up to nine aircraft, including two freighters, according to local media reports. A public announcement regarding the tender is expected within a matter of days.

The incoming aircraft, valued at between US$2.2 billion and $2.5 billion – based on the credit line approved by the National Investment Fund – will support the modernization of the state-owned carrier’s passenger fleet, and will bolster the carrier’s ability to target burgeoning air cargo opportunities unrelated to the oil & gas segment. Although demand from the oil & gas industry historically comprised an outsized share of cargo traffic carried by Air Algérie, in recent years the region has seen a spike in demand from other types of commodities, such as perishables and express shipments.

Though specifics of the tender have not been made public, Cargo Facts expects Air Algérie will consider converting additional 737-800s currently operating in its passenger fleet to freighter configuration. At the Farnborough Airshow in 2016, the Algerian carrier ordered two 737-800BCF conversions from Boeing to complement its freighter fleet, which previously consisted of two 737-700Cs and a Lockheed Hercules. AH’s first 737-800BCF (30202) was converted by Boeing at the STAECO facility in Jinan (TNA) and redelivered last July. Air Algérie’s second 737-800, meanwhile, has yet to be inducted for conversion.

At present, four aircraft out of a total of twenty-four 737-800s operating in Air Algérie’s passenger fleet are at an age suitable for conversion, based on the age of the carrier’s first 737-800P2F. The carrier’s first freighter-converted 737-800BCF rolled off Boeing’s Renton assembly line just under 19 years ago. Of AH’s twenty-four active -800s, fifteen have been in service for less than ten years, while four have been in service for just over eighteen years.

As for the other aircraft Air Algérie has on tender, incoming aircraft will likely be a mix of four turboprop/narrowbody and three widebody aircraft. Apart from the twenty-four 737-800s, two 737-700Cs, and one 737-800BCF, the carrier also operates eight A330-200s and fifteen ATR 72s.

Those interested in learning more about narrowbody freighter conversions are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com. Discounted early-bird registration ends 1 March.

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