Through a series of recent deals, Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) has secured rights to a stable pipeline of 767-300 feedstock, and as a result, the company’s CAM leasing subsidiary expects to add at least twenty-five freighter-converted 767-300Fs to its portfolio over the next three years. With the growth of the 767 platform already dialed-in to full-throttle, ATSG is now turning to 777F operations to expand its CMI business.
On Tuesday, Omni Air International LLC, a company which ATSG completed the acquisition of last November, filed an application with the US Department of Transportation for an exemption, effective for a period of two years, to operate 777Fs on international routes between the United States and destination countries that currently have, or will obtain, “Open Skies” agreements with the US.
Although Omni does not currently operate freighters, it has in the past, and the carrier is already experienced with 777 operations. The Omni fleet includes seven 767-300ER, three 767-200ER, and three 777-200ER aircraft. While the fleet is currently engaged in passenger ACMI or charter service, it was clear from the day ATSG acquired Omni that 777F operations were under consideration. Discussing the Omni acquisition back when the deal was announced in October 2018, ATSG’s COO, Rich Corrado, noted the most significant opportunity for the 777 platform was the potential for CMI operations of 777Fs on behalf of major express carrier DHL, which in July 2018 announced an order for fourteen of the freighters.
Returning to the DOT filing, Omni stated, “An opportunity has arisen whereby Omni intends to resume all-cargo service as an adjunct to its passenger operations, operating B777 freighter aircraft.” While ATSG did name the customer, Cargo Facts believes Omni is looking to in talks with DHL; the filing added, “The full capacity of the cargo flights is expected to be contracted to a major international express company.”
Expedited processing of the DOT filing was requested, and any opposition to the application is requested prior to 13 March.
Even without a possible bid on 777 CMI operations for DHL, March is set to be an important month for the renewal of existing business between ACMG and DHL. During ATSG’s Q4 earnings call this morning (more analysis on that to come tomorrow), the company noted that CMI agreements for sixteen 767Fs currently operated by ATSG affiliate carriers on behalf of DHL are set to expire this year. ATSG expects fourteen out of sixteen of the existing CMI agreements with DHL will be renewed by the end of March. Two 767-200Fs currently operating on a CMI-basis for DHL within the United States, meanwhile, are expected to be returned. It seems likely that DHL will replace the two outgoing -200Fs with three -300Fs. During the call, Corrado suggested that of the ten 767-300Fs CAM expects to place in 2019, five will go to Amazon and three will go to a “major integrator.” Cargo Facts would not be surprised if concurrently with the 767 negotiations, ATSG and DHL are discussing 777F CMI operations.
Those interested in learning more about demand for widebody freighters s are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com. Discounted early-bird registration ends 1 March.