More jet freighters for West Atlantic

Sweden-based all-cargo operator West Atlantic is making fleet changes. The carrier, which is the parent of UK-based Atlantic Airways, as well as West Air Sweden and Luxembourg-based West Air Europe,  says it will likely acquire several freighter-converted 737-400Fs over the next two years.

Until relatively recently West Atlantic had not operated any jet freighters, supplementing a turboprop fleet made up of close to forty ATPFs with two Lockheed Electras and a single ATR42F. In 2007, however, West Atlantic became the launch customer for a freighter version of the Bombardier CRJ200 and now operates two in its own fleet and leases a third to Chile-based Rio Baker. Given the relatively small size of the CRJs, and their specialized application, it did not seem likely that their acquisition indicated a major shift in West Atlantic’s operational philosophy, so it came as something of a surprise when the company signed up in late 2010 as the launch operator for Airbus’ A320 passenger-to-freighter conversion program.

Following the cancellation of the A320 P-to-F program a year later, West Atlantic acquired two 737-300Fs, and now tells Cargo Facts it will also acquire an unspecified number of 737-400Fs. Cargo Facts believes the carrier has either committed, or is about to commit to two units, but we also believe that a total of four is likely, assuming the European economy eventually recovers.

We also point out that earlier reports that West Atlantic had acquired eight passenger-configured ATRs (two ATR42s and six ATR72s) on lease from Willis Lease Finance were incorrect. The reports indicated that West Atlantic planned to eventually convert the ATRs to freighter configuration, but would sub-lease them to other carriers in the meantime. However, West Atlantic tells us that while it has been engaged by Willis to oversee the maintenance of eleven ex-Olympic Airways ATRs, it is not leasing them and has no plans to operate them.

Today’s blog is expanded from this week’s issue of Cargo Facts Update. Those of you who do not already subscribe to the the monthly printed Cargo Facts newsletter, and its companion the weekly emailed Cargo Facts Update,  can click here for more information.

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