On Tuesday, Brazilian airline GOL and Mercado Livre introduced the first of six Boeing 737-800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) expected to be received between 2022 and 2023. These new cargo planes will pivot GOL’s new strategy to address the cargo market in South America’s biggest country, Brazil. Let’s take a look at GOL’s freighter plans with the 737-800BCF.
GOL and the e-commerce Latin American giant Mercado Livre signed a partnership earlier this year to convert six Boeing 737-800 commercial aircraft to freighters through Boeing’s BCF program, which was launched to meet the demand for transporting express cargo on domestic routes. GOL is known for being a 737-only carrier in South America and currently has the region’s largest MAX commercial order.
Instead of simply retiring the older 737-800 planes, the airline is turning some of them into freighters, taking advantage of what Celso Ferrer, GOL’s CEO, described as a “tremendous opportunity” to have more synergies on the productivity side.
The incoming 737-800BCFs will increase the freighter operation and will reduce by up 80% the delivery times on domestic routes across Brazil, particularly in the North, Northeast, and Midwest regions. GOL already announced Fortaleza, São Luís, and Teresina will be the first cities to receive the flights. Additionally, GOL has the possibility of adding six additional 737-800s to the freighter plan in the future if demand deems it necessary. These six additional cargo aircraft would be added to GOL’s fleet by 2025.
— GOL Linhas Aéreas (@VoeGOLoficial) August 23, 2022
Capacity for twelve pallets
The 737-800BCF is equipped with blended winglets to enhance fuel efficiency and flight performance. It has the capacity for twelve pallet positions, accommodating eleven standard 88 x 125in pallets and one 88 x 62in a contoured pallet. Its maximum take-off weight (MTOW) is 79.000kg, while the maximum landing weight is 66.350kg. The freighter reduces logistics and maintenance costs as it shares many components and systems with the Next-Generation 737 passenger aircraft.
The three Brazilian airlines are locked up in a competition to increase freighter connectivity in Brazil. LATAM Airlines is addressing this on a continental scale, with the conversion of several Boeing 767-300s. Azul and GOL are turning their attention to the domestic side by converting older Embraer E-jets (introducing the Class-F Freighter) and 737NGs.
The voice of GOL and Mercado Livre’s executives
Celso Ferrer said:
“This aircraft symbolizes the beginning of a new phase for GOL and GOLLOG. This business model, unprecedented for the Company, could not have a better partner, a leader in the e-commerce market in Latin America. Being part of it and contributing to democratizing this service for millions of Brazilians in a structured and sustainable way makes us proud and motivates us to keep growing.”
Julio Perotti, executive director of GOLLOG, GOL’s cargo business, said:
“We estimate that GOLLOG will register an increase of approximately 80% in supply capacity in tons. This is a major move that expands our operations in Brazil, increasing the range of services offered, representing an incremental revenue of 100 million reais still in 2022 and a further one billion reais over the next five years.”
Fernando Yunes, Senior Vice President and leader of Mercado Livre in Brazil, added:
“The first flights will be destined for the cities of Fortaleza (CE), São Luís (MA), and Teresina (PI), where the current timeframe of 4 days will drop to just 1, considering cargo stored in Mercado Livre Fulfillment Centers. We will reduce the delivery time by up to 80%. This is the fulfillment of our purpose of fast delivery and democratization of commerce for the whole country.”
GOL conversion ambitions
Nonetheless, GOL also has a different set of ambitions for the freighter market. The Brazilian company is looking to certify its MRO unit business –located in Confins, Brazil– allowing it to fully execute the future Boeing 737-800BCF conversions. That should open more business opportunities for GOL, as many airlines in the region could be looking with interest at the 737-800BCF program in the future.
Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.