Brazil-based Azul Cargo Express’ first 737-400F arrived in Belo Horizonte this week, sporting a new livery. The aircraft (28198, ex-Miami International) recently underwent conversion to freighter configuration by PEMCO and is on lease from Vx Capital Partners. Azul Cargo Express said this freighter – the first of two 737-400Fs has agreed to lease from Vx Capital Partners – will enter commercial service as soon as the aircraft is certified by the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC). The second aircraft (28053) is expected to arrive in Brazil this coming September and is currently undergoing conversion.
Azul’s new freighters will support the continued rapid growth of the carrier’s cargo division, which has already seen traffic jump 61% YTD. Economic recovery, which has spurred industrial production, and new products that target the cross-border e-commerce market, have contributed to the cargo division’s growth. Although the 737-400Fs represent the carrier’s first full-freighters, Azul has long been operating a few of its ATR 72-500 QCs in cargo-configuration for flights to cities like Porto Alegre (POA) and Recife (REC).
Long-term, more freighters could be in the cards. Late last year, Azul inked a joint-venture agreement with Correios, Brazil’s national post. Initially, the joint venture is expected to leverage Azul’s passenger network to replace much of the road feeder transportation that is currently required for domestic mail transport, but Azul told Cargo Facts that continued robust demand for general cargo and mail could warrant an expanded freighter fleet.