While there are clear indications that the air freight market is cooling down from record levels in 2020-2021, this doesn’t seem to have an impact on the market for full freighters. After Wednesday’s firm order from Cargolux for ten Boeing 777-8Fs, today lessor AerCap has placed an order for fifteen A321P2F conversions with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW). AerCap gets serious with A321P2F order for EFW.

The order includes options for another fifteen aircraft. The A321s will come from AerCap’s own portfolio, with deliveries to start in 2023 through 2025. By the end of June, AerCap had 62 managed and owned A321ceo aircraft in its fleet, so this indicates that it would convert almost half of them if options are exercised.

Converting thirty A321s also means that the lessor will significantly grow its narrowbody freighter portfolio. It now has 45 managed and owned Boeing 737NGs in the books, with a book value of less than one percent of its entire portfolio. AerCap recently took delivery of the 100th Boeing 737-800BCF which has been leased to Brazilian operator GOL in the striking yellow Mercado Livre livery. The other freighters are 23 747s, 767s, and 777s. Twenty 777-300ERs are being converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) under a program launched by GECAS. The US leasing giant was acquired by AerCap in 2020.

In its HY1 results investor’s call in August, CEO Angus Kelly said that AerCap noted strong interest in the Boeing 737-800BCF. Today’s announcement confirms that the lessor wants to grow and diversify its full freighter narrowbody portfolio. In a media statement, Rich Greener, Head of AerCap Cargo, says: Extending the life of our A321 fleet will complement the Cargo portfolio and meet the strong demand from our diverse customer base, from which we’ve seen a significant appetite for this freighter. The A321 freighter is the best-in-class and most fuel-efficient aircraft to replace the B757-200 freighter. This transaction is in line with our cargo portfolio strategy of diversifying our fleet with improved economics and returns. We look forward to working with the EFW team on this program and thank them for the trust they have placed in AerCap.”

CEO Jordi Boto of EFW said: “We are glad that we may finally announce the agreement with AerCap on this volume order for A321P2F conversions. Our young A320P2F family program has gone from strength to strength and gained traction very quickly in the market with a dozen aircraft already in operation.”

EFW is jointly owned by Airbus and ST Engineering. Conversions are done in various sites, including Dresden (Germany) and Singapore. The Airbus A321P2F can carry fourteen containers on the main deck and ten in the belly hold, offering a gross payload capacity of 28 tonnes. The aircraft has a range of 2.300nm./4.260km. EFW and ST Engineering also convert the A320ceo. AerCap has 331 aircraft in its portfolio, so don’t be surprised if another conversion contract will be announced anytime in the future.

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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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