With Tampa Cargo’s order for A330-200Fs, the carrier will, upon delivery, operate factory-fresh freighters for the first time. But Tampa’s history goes back almost forty years, to 1973, when the airline was founded by Orlando Botero Escobar and Luis Coulson (also two of the founders of passenger carrier ACES Columbia), and Anibal Obando Echeverri (a Columbian Logistics entrepreneur).
In those early days, the carrier flew mostly flower charters to the U.S. with a DC-6. By 1979, a 707 had been added and within a decade the carrier had a small fleet of 707 freighters and a single DC-8, flying many routes around South America and a couple of points in the U.S.
Gracing the cover of the November, 1992 issue of Cargo Facts was this DC-8-71F, leased from GPA. In time, the DC-8 would replace the 707 as the backbone of Tampa’s fleet in the 1990s. At the time, cargo growth in Latin America also prompted Lan Chile and Ladeco to lease 70-series DC-8 freighters as well. VASP was another GPA DC-8-71F lessee in the region. Almost all of these DC-8s were ex-United, converted by Alenia after United finally took them out of service at the end of the 1980s.
In November, 1996, Martinair purchased a large stake of Tampa, but the airline continued to run (and grow) much as it had previously, with the addition of some flights operated on Martinair MD-11F’s. Martinair had already been working closely with Tampa in Columbia. After 2000, the DC-8s were gradually phased out in favor of converted Boeing 767-200s, which themselves will likely be phased out upon arrival of the A330-200Fs.
In 2008, Avianca, Columbia’s largest and oldest airline, purchased the whole of Tampa Cargo. Avianca have phased out their 767 fleet in favor of the A330-200, perhaps adding fleet commonality as one of the benefits of Tampa’s order of the A330-200F. Avianca also has 12 Boeing 787-8s on order with 8 additional options.