Last week, Cargo Facts sat down with Cargolux President & CEO Richard Forson to discuss what the all-cargo carrier’s fleet might look in the future, when 747Fs are no longer available. Today, however, 747Fs can still be acquired, and the Luxembourg-based all-cargo airline is planning to add three used 747-400Fs next year. The source of these aircraft has not yet been confirmed, but there are a few hints.
Regarding the three incoming 747-400Fs, Forson said that Cargolux is sourcing relatively young -400Fs around ten years in age. One of the -400Fs, Forson said, is already leased by Cargolux, but is currently with another carrier until next year. Cargo Facts suspects this aircraft is an ex-TNT Airways 747-400F (35236) that is now operated by ASL Airlines Belgium for various carriers. Despite being delivered to TNT, the aircraft was operated on behalf of Emirates SkyCargo for nearly a decade before being returned to lessor Aircastle. Recent flight data suggests the ASL has been flying charters under its own flight numbers, and for carriers including Emirates and El Al. Recent aircraft photographs also suggest the aircraft has dropped its Emirates SkyCargo livery and has been repainted in ASL Airlines Belgium colors.
As for the source of the next two aircraft, there is not a huge pool of 747-400Fs in operation that are around a decade old. We point to two likely sources: Both Cathay Pacific and Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) currently operate 747-400Fs around a decade old, and have in the past sold off aging 747-400Fs. NCA has three aircraft that would fit the bill should it decide to sell off any of its -400Fs (36132, 36133, 36135) while Cathay Pacific continues to operate six 747-400Fs (36867, 36868, 36869, 36870, 36871).
But do these carriers want to sell? While neither carrier has announced plans to adjust capacity through fleet changes, both carriers have recently begun experimenting with ACMI-leased capacity. In May 2017, Cathay Pacific ACMI-leased two 747-8Fs from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. “to support its airfreight operations”. In a similar deal, NCA began ACMI-leasing its first aircraft from AAWWH in August 2017, and took a second later last year. Might this trend continue?
While you’re considering the possibilities, we’ll leave you with one of our favorite videos of a Cargolux 747 landing at Sea-Tac airport: