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Many separate industry sources have independently told Cargo Facts that the A320 passenger-to-freighter conversion program is about to be postponed, with an official announcement expected today (Friday 03 June).
As it currently stands, the program is spearheaded by Airbus Freighter Conversions (AFC), a joint venture of EFW (EADS’ MRO and conversion arm), Airbus, and Russian aerospace companies UAC and Irkut, with EFW holding a 32% stake, Airbus 18%, and the two Russian firms holding 25% each. The program was launched with an order for up to 30 conversions from Netherlands-based lessor AerCap, however, Cargo Facts believes that at least one other order was in late-stage negotiation at the time of the program’s suspension. The only end user so far identified by AerCap is Sweden-based West Atlantic, which had agreed to take three A320Fs, one in 2012, and the remaining two in 2013.
The conformity aircraft (ex-Tunisair, msn 211) was inducted at EFW’s Dresden facility in April (although actual conversion work was not scheduled to start until later this year).
As we predicted, the partners in the Airbus Freighter Conversions joint venture have released a statement formally cancelling the A320 P-to-F conversion program. The text of the statement follows, (or click here to read the original on the Airbus website):
“Airbus, EADS EFW and their Russian partners, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and IRKUT, have jointly decided to stop the A320/A321 Passenger to Freighter (P2F) conversion development programme for economic reasons and, therefore, to launch the necessary legal procedures for the termination of the joint venture “Airbus Freighter Conversion GmbH (AFC)”.
Recent market developments, including the success of the upcoming A320neo, have resulted in more demand for A320 passenger aircraft and less for freighter versions in this aircraft category. In addition, strongly growing passenger traffic results in high demand for used A320 Family aircraft, thus reducing the amount of aircraft available for conversion.
Against the backdrop of these market changes and the increasing pressure on the P2F business case, the partners have concluded to stop and freeze the P2F programme.
The joint venture “Airbus Freighter Conversion GmbH (AFC)” was established between EADS EFW, Airbus and the Russian companies UAC, IRKUT, in April 2007. Headquartered in Dresden, Germany, AFC was equally divided between Russia (UAC and IRKUT with 25% each) and EADS/Airbus (EADS EFW 32%, Airbus 18%). The partners have decided to dissolve AFC.
The collegial and professional cooperation in this joint venture over the last four years developed by Airbus/EADS EFW, UAC and IRKUT, has strengthened the partnership between the European and the Russian aviation industry. IRKUT and Airbus will continue their partnership in components manufacturing for the Single Aisle programme.”