Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), the world’s largest operator of converted Boeing 767 aircraft, has placed an order to convert four more Boeing 767-300 aircraft into Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF).
The cargo conversions are expected to begin in late 2023.
Who is Air Transport Services Group?
Founded in 1980 in Wilmington, Ohio, ATSG today owns a number of subsidiaries, including Cargo Aircraft Management and Omni Air International. They have an in-service fleet of 112 aircraft, including 70 Boeing 767-300 aircraft (61 freighters and 9 passenger aircraft).
These latest orders underline their commitment to the type, and Mike Berger, Chief Commercial Officer of ATSG, has stated that "demand for the 767-300 platform remains strong among e-commerce and express providers." They also have an option for four more Boeing 767-300 conversions.
ATSG's total fleet number looks set to increase significantly too - plans are in place to bring a further 80 passenger to freighter (P2F) converted aircraft into the fleet over the next five years. And it is not only Boeing aircraft that are being purchased; it recently signed a deal for 29 Airbus A330P2F conversions.
ATSG’s cargo aircraft operate for several well-known customers including UPS, DHL and Amazon, who last year purchased a 20% stake in ATSG.
Passenger to freighter conversions
Demand for cargo aircraft has grown exponentially throughout the pandemic, fuelled by booming e-commerce performance and fewer passengers taking to the skies.
Converting an aging passenger aircraft extends its economic life, and allows cargo operators to expand their fleet more cheaply than purchasing newer cargo aircraft.
The conversion itself is a complex process that typically takes 100-120 days to complete, and involves a long list of structural and cosmetic modifications.
The Boeing 767-300BCF
The first Boeing 767-300BCF was delivered to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in June 2008. However, the type’s popularity didn’t pick up until much later. Delays with the Boeing 787 program meant that many airlines were holding on to their Boeing 767s for longer than planned, so there were fewer available to be converted.
That has all changed recently – as a result of the pandemic and subsequent fall in demand for passenger aircraft, second-hand aircraft are now available at a lower cost, and the conversion market is growing significantly. The Boeing 767-300BCF has proven so popular that there are currently over 100 orders and commitments in place, and Boeing is opening another conversion line in Guangzhou, China to cope with demand.
So for now the Boeing 767-300BCF is well and truly in the spotlight, but will we soon be seeing the first Boeing 777 converted freighter?