It appears that airlines and aircraft lessors are throwing support behind Boeing 737-800 converted freighters, citing its ideal size, range and fuel-efficiency, as more carriers dabble in cargo.
This week, Dublin-based aircraft lessor ASL Aviation Holdings confirmed that it would be exercising its options for 10 additional 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCFs), made following their firm order of 10 of the same aircraft.
The first 737-800BCF for ASL was delivered and entered service last month with ASL Airlines France.
The second aircraft will be accepted by ASL’s joint-venture airline, K-Mile Asia this month and is expected to enter service in early April from its Bangkok Suvarnabhumi base.
This will be the first 737-800BCF registered in Thailand. Four aircraft are currently under conversion, and another two aircraft are due for induction in the coming weeks.
“The performance and reliability of the 737-800BCF make it the perfect fit for our combined fleet renewal and growth programs and so we have moved to confirm our 10 options earlier than planned,” said ASL Aviation Holdings chief executive Dave Andrew.
“The aircraft offers an excellent option for our express cargo customers as they develop their networks to meet demand in the years ahead.
“It is ‘right-sized’ in payload and range and offers the improved carbon efficiency that ASL and our customers see as an essential element in fleet planning as we aim for future carbon neutrality.”
The 737-800BCF is up to 15 per cent more fuel-efficient and has lower CO2 per tonne than the 737-400SF.
Based on the popular Next-Generation 737, the 737-800BCF is meeting customer demand for a newer-generation freighter that offers higher reliability and lower fuel consumption and operating costs per trip compared with other standard body freighters.
Primarily used to carry express cargo on domestic or short-haul routes, the airplane is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes and flying up to 3,750 kilometres (2,025 nautical miles).
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with ASL Aviation Holdings, which began at the Paris Air Show and was highlighted recently by their first 737-800BCF entering service,” said Jens Steinhagen, director of Boeing freighter conversions. “We look forward to seeing how their growing fleet takes advantage of the 737-800BCF’s market-leading reliability and efficiency.”
Meanwhile, Bahrain-based airline Texel Air has announced an order for its first 737-800 BCF, citing an increase in cargo charter demand.
“The addition of a Boeing Converted Freighter to our fleet will help us meet current and high forecast customer demand for cargo transport, while also supporting our long-term growth and business goals,” said George Chisholm, CEO of Texel Air.
“We chose the 737- 800BCF based on its industry-leading performance and cargo capabilities, as well as confidence in Boeing’s conversion services expertise.”
Anbessie Yitbarek, Boeing vice president of commercial services sales, said, “We are pleased to welcome Texel Air to the Boeing Converted Freighter family.
“The capability, efficiency and versatility of the 737-800BCF make it the ideal freighter to meet the growth needs of our customers in express freight and domestic cargo networks.”
The 737-800BCF has won more than 150 orders and commitments to date, with e-commerce and express cargo markets driving strong demand for Boeing passenger-to-freighter conversions.
Boeing forecasts that airlines in the Middle East and Africa will require more than 200 new and converted freighters over the next 20 years. This agreement with Texel marks the first airline order of a 737-800BCF in the Middle East region.
Additional reporting by Airlinerwatch.