The first Airbus A330-200F for Colombia-based Tampa Cargo (msn: 1368) is seen here returning from a pre-delivery test flight on a frigid winter afternoon in Toulouse. Operating on test registration F-WWKQ, the aircraft will reportedly be registered N330QT when delivered.
With the delivery, Tampa will receive its first-ever new-build aircraft and also become the first operator of the A330-200F in the Americas. The delivery will be the first of seven ordered by Tampa and its corporate parent, the Rio de Janiero-based Synergy Group, during 2011 and 2012. The first order for four was placed on Sept. 27, 2011 – one year to the day after the A330-200F entered service. The second order came as part of an order for nine A330s – six passenger and three freighter – for the AviancaTaca group as a whole in July of 2012.
Tampa became part of the Avianca group in 2008, but further consolidation saw Columbia’s Avianca merge with TACA, primarily of El Salvador (TACA was actually a consortium of several central American airlines including Salvadoran TACA, LACSA of Costa Rica, Aviateca of Guatemala, and several others). The group became Bogota-based AviancaTaca Holdings in 2010, itself part of the large Brazilian Synergy Group, which owns 66% of AviancaTaca. In addition to Tampa, Avianca, and TACA, the group also operates Avianca Brazil (previously known as OceanAir Brasil), Avianca Ecuador (formerly VIP Ecuador), and owns the defunct Brazilian Cargo airline VarigLog. As of last month, the Synergy Group’s European subsidiary was also looking to acquire TAP Portugal.
We last looked back on Tampa’s history in 2011, during our “Thirty years of Cargo Facts” series. The airline was founded by Orlando Botero Escobar, Luis Coulson, and Anibal Obando Echeverri in 1973, originally operating DC-6s. Tampa grew steadily in the 1980s and graduated to the 707, and in the 1990s was flying a fleet of 70-series DC-8s, which were replaced by the current fleet of 767-200s.
Tampa Cargo currently operates five 767 freighters – four early 767-200 conversions, all former Varig airplanes leased from GECAS post-conversion, and one former ANA 767-300F acquired in 2011.
Four 1987-build 767-200ERSF’s that match the description of those in Tampa’s fleet were recently put up for sale, one immediately, according to Airfax. This suggests that the A330 will begin to replace the 767s at the carrier on a one-to-one basis as soon as they enter the fleet.
This photo comes courtesy of contributor Olivier Gregoire.
© Photographer: Olivier Gregoire. This photo may not be used without the express permission of Olivier Gregoire. To see more of Olivier’s excellent aviation photos, click here.