Orders for widebody freighter conversions may have almost dried up, but the narrowbody conversion market continues to thrive. Cargo Facts believes there will soon be a flood of new orders announced for passenger-to-freighter conversions of 757-200s (currently offered by Precision Conversions and ST Aero), as well as for Aeronautical Engineers Inc’s recently-launched MD-80 and CRJ200 programs.
But this week the spotlight is on the 737, with firm orders for three 737-400 P-to-F conversions by ASL Aviation Group, and the news that China Postal Airlines bought five 737-300s and intends to convert them to freighter configuration. ASL Group is the parent of three airlines – Ireland-based Air Contractors, France-based Europe Airpost, and South Africa-based Safair. It ordered three 737-400 P-to-F conversions just nine months ago, and as was the case then, the conversions in the new three-unit order will be provided by AEI.
China Postal, which took redelivery of its first freighter-converted 737 in 2003, now operates a total of eighteen (eight 737-400Fs, eight 737-300Fs, two 737-300QCs), almost all of which were converted by PEMCO World Air Services. No announcement has been made regarding the source of the upcoming five conversions, but Cargo Facts believes that these will be also be provided by PEMCO.
These orders are not a sudden heating-up of a previously dormant market, but in fact represent what has become business as usual in the narrowbody conversion market. Now if only things would start cooking in the widebody market…