Qatar Airways Cargo took delivery of its first new-build A330-200F on December 19, 2012 (A7-AFV, msn: 1350) , and is soon to receive its second example (msn: 1368) seen here returning to Toulouse after a test flight. This second airplane will become A7-AFY on delivery.
The two A330-200Fs are part of a three-aircraft lease from BOC Aviation. The third aircraft (msn: 1406) is already in production. Originally earmarked for the HNA group (Yangtze River Express/Hong Kong Airlines Cargo), the lease for the trio was announced in December as the first aircraft entered the paint shop.
Qatar Airway’s outspoken CEO Akbar Al Baker told Flightglobal on the occasion of the announcement of the lease that the A330s will replace Qatar’s long-serving trio of A300-600Fs, all conversions, two of which served Qatar as passenger aircraft prior to conversion.
Qatar Airways has grown far beyond what it was when it began, and the cessation of A300-600 operations at the carrier marks the end of an earlier chapter. When the A300-600 arrived at Qatar Airways in 1997, the carrier had just nine aircraft – the first three A300s joined four 727-200advs and two ex-ANA 747-100SRs. Today, the carrier has 113 passenger aircraft ranging from the Airbus A319 to the Boeing 777-300ER and eight dedicated wide-body freighters (including the A300s), and will become an A380 operator in the next couple of years.
Although long speculated to be the launch customer for the Airbus A330 passenger-to-freighter conversion program, with a potential order for up to twenty units, neither Airbus nor Qatar Airways has announced a firm commitment by the carrier. Meanwhile, Qatar has been expanding its Boeing freighter fleet with the 777F – it now has a total of four in service with four more on order.
This photo comes courtesy of contributor Olivier Gregoire.
© Photographer: Olivier Gregoire. This photo may not be used without the express permission of Olivier Gregoire. To see more of Olivier’s excellent aviation photos, click here.