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US-based lessor INTREPID AVIATION confirmed that its agreement with AIRBUS now offers it the option to convert its 20 firm orders for the A330-200 Freighter to either A330-200 or -300 passenger variants. Intrepid tells Cargo Facts that it “remains committed to the A330 freighter aircraft as the best choice for its segment of the market.” However, since the A330 market is dominated by demand for passenger aircraft, and customers have begun requesting A330 passenger aircraft, “it was prudent for us to address this market.” Intrepid was scheduled to take its first A330-200F in July 2013, but will now begin taking A330s in passenger configuration this year. The eventual split of passenger vs. freighter units is as yet undetermined.
Where does Intrepid’s move leave the A330-200 Freighter program? Prior to agreeing to allow Intrepid to swap A330-200F orders for A330-200/-300 passenger orders, AIRBUS showed a total of 57 orders for the A330 freighter, of which 6 have been delivered. The remaining 51 are split among carriers Malaysia Airlines (4), MNG Airlines Cargo (4), and Turkish Airlines (3); and lessors Intrepid (20), OH-Avion (8), BOC Aviation (5), and Aircastle (1). In addition US-based investment firm MatlinPatterson has 6 units on order.
Will any of the other lessors follow Intrepid and look to swap their orders from freighter to passenger aircraft? The 6 units on order from BOC and Aircastle are all committed to China’s HNA Group, but no end users have been announced for any of the units ordered by OH-Avion, or for those ordered by MatlinPatterson. We point out that the “OH” in OH-Avion is Oak Hill Capital Partners, parent of ACMI and charter operator Southern Air, and that MatlinPatterson controls Global Aviation Holdings, the parent of World Airways and North American Airlines, so it is possible that some of the A330-200Fs they have on order could be placed in those subsidiary carriers, but no announcements to that effect have been made.