Last Friday, US-based lessor Intrepid Aviation acquired a 747-8F from Boeing (63781), and placed it on long-term lease with Russia-based AirBridgeCargo. Intrepid’s first 747-8F (63695) was delivered to AirBridge in April 2017, and last Friday’s delivery was the second, and final, aircraft included as part of the deal.
The order dates to October 2016, when Intrepid reached an agreement with Boeing to swap two of its existing orders for 777-300ER passenger aircraft for 747-8 freighters. At the time, Intrepid said both would go “on very long lease to one of the industry’s premier cargo operators.” Although the identity of the “premier cargo operator” was not immediately released, it was later announced that the aircraft were destined for AirBridgeCargo as part of an MoU ABC’s parent, Volga-Dnepr Group, had signed with Boeing during summer 2016, under which it agreed to take twenty 747-8Fs, “through a mix of direct purchases and leasing.”
Just how much progress has Volga-Dnepr made towards taking delivery of these twenty -8Fs? According to our records, last Friday’s delivery (63781) would be number seven of twenty, meaning the group could potentially take delivery of thirteen more -8Fs. So far, six have gone to AirBridge, and one has gone to Volga-Dnepr’s UK-based affiliate, CargoLogicAir. Cargo Facts has long believed that Volga-Dnepr affiliate airlines would eventually take delivery of most of these aircraft, the majority of which are likely to end up in AirBridge’s fleet.
According to a statement from Intrepid regarding its latest placement with AirBridge, “the delivery is in keeping with ABC’s plan to become an all-747-8F operator over the next several years.” At present, ABC’s portfolio includes five 747-400ERFs and two 747-400Fs, in addition to the eleven -8Fs. If replaced on a one-for-one basis, this would mean six additional -8Fs (assuming one of the -400Fs is removed following the most recent delivery). But ABC continues to grow rapidly. Year-to-date tonnage through July was up 15%, and healthy growth is expected to continue.
As for the fate of AirBridge’s current portfolio of -400Fs, most are leased and could simply be returned following the expiration of the contract. Cargo Facts would also not be surprised if at least some of the aircraft were transferred to ABC’s sister airline, CargoLogicAir. The CargoLogicAir fleet currently includes two 747-400Fs and a single -8F, all of which were transferred from ABC’s fleet.
Those interested in learning more about the Boeing freighters and conversions, are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2-4 October, where Boeing Global Services’ Chief Marketing Officer, Debra Santos, and VP, Engineering Modification & Maintenance, Kurt Kraft will speak. To register, or for more information, visit CargoFactsSymposium.com.