Aerial view of Brussels

ASL Aviation is to take up 10 options for the 737-800BCF – but is remaining tight-lipped on potential customers for the capacity.

Amazon supplier ASL said “most of the aircraft” would join its fleets in Europe – “but as yet none are assigned to any customer,” said Andrew Kelly, director of corporate affairs.

“As you know we are a neutral service provider and we aim to have the assets to meet the requirements of our customers. This development is fleet, growth and market driven. This is part of an ASL programme to right-size aircraft for the developing market and for growth.”

He added that some aircraft would be ear-marked for fleet replacement, in a bid to improve emissions, but overall, the group’s 140-strong fleet would grow.

ASL signed a deal with Boeing in June 2019 for 10 firm orders for 737-800BCFs and 10 options. The first entered service last month with ASL Airlines France, while the second will join the group’s joint-venture, K-Mile Asia, in April.

ASL said four aircraft were being converted, with another two due for induction in the coming weeks.

It seems likely that Amazon, after launching its European hub in Leipzig Halle, is planning to expand its air network in Europe. It has recently expanded its air operations in Italy with ASL.

ASL currently provides the e-commerce retailer with three aircraft for its European operations. In the US, Amazon leases a fleet of some 56 aircraft, but in its first foray into ownership has also acquired 11 aircraft to operate in that market.

ASL said its decision to take the 737-800BCF options was made earlier than originally planned.

Chief executive Dave Andrew said: “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 carbon neutrality.”

The 737-800BCF is up to 15% more fuel efficient and has lower CO2 per tonne than the 737-400SF. ASL’s airlines operate some 74 737-400Fs.

Last year, ASL airlines transported 810,000 tonnes of cargo globally on customer ACMI flights and ASL’s own scheduled services.

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