Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), the world’s largest lessor of freighter aircraft, has committed to 29 Airbus 330 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion slots with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a joint-venture between ST Engineering and Airbus.

The firm says the commitment reflects a strategic step by ATSG to diversify its existing fleet of 117 aircraft with the addition of next-generation widebody freighters.

“The A330-300 passenger-to-freighter conversion is a natural next step for ATSG, as it is an excellent complement to the B767-300 medium widebody freighter, which has long been the freighter of choice for the e-commerce air cargo market,” said chief commercial officer Mike Berger.

“The availability of feedstock, combined with impressive cargo capacity, make the A330 a very attractive option for conversion and will enable ATSG to continue to meet the demands for full-capacity freighters long into the future.

“The customer response to the news that we will have A330-300 freighters available for lease has been exceptionally strong, and we already have deposits toward future leases for half of these 29 converted freighters.”

Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW, said: “To have a key market player like ATSG adopting the A330 P2F programme with such a high commitment is a major milestone for us. This is a great sign of confidence in next-generation Airbus freighters, and trust in EFW’s competency as a centre of excellence for Airbus freighter conversions.”

The conversions for ATSG will happen between mid-2023 through 2027, mainly at EFW’s facility in Dresden, Germany, but at the same time also at ST Engineering conversion sites in China.

To meet the rising demand for freighter conversions, ST Engineering and EFW are setting up new conversion sites in China and the US this year, and will ramp-up conversion capacity for all their Airbus P2F programmes to about 60 slots a year by 2024.

The conversion programme comes with two variants – the A330-200 P2F and A330-300 P2F – the -200 can carry a gross payload of up to 61 tons over 7,700 km, while -300 offers a gross payload of up to 63 tons and a containerised volume of up to 526 cubic metres, which, claims EFW, “brings a new paradigm of efficiency, with 23% more cargo volume than other freighter aircraft in the same class”.

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