ST Aerospace, Airbus and Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) are to start Airbus A320 and A321 passenger to freighter (P2F) conversions, with ST Aerospace increasing its stake in EFW.
The agreement was announced at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday 17 June. ST Aerospace will lead the engineering development with help from Airbus and EFW, with the conversion work being undertaken by ST Aerospace and EFW. The agreement was signed by ST Aerospace president, Lim Serh Ghee, Airbus Group chief financial officer, Harald Wilhelm, Airbus chief operating officer, Tom Williams, and chief executive officer of EFW, Andreas Sperl.
ST Aerospace tells Air Cargo Week development work will start shortly, though no date was given, but the aircraft should be in service by the end of 2018. Sperl says: “The launch of the A320/A321 P2F programme is very good news for EFW and the airfreight cargo market. We are convinced of the significant market potential for our product.” Wilhelm says: “This freighter conversion agreement is a great step for our highly successful A320 family programme, boosting the longevity of the aircraft and enhancing value for aircraft owners and investors.”
EFW says over the next 20 years, it expects there will be demand for 612 small freighters with a payload of less than 30 tonnes, and the A321 P2F, in particular, will fill demand by the replacement of Boeing 757 Special Freighters. It predicts all the small freighters required over the next 20 years will be conversions. The A320 P2F will have a payload of 21 tonnes over 2,100 nautical miles and the A321 P2F will be able to carry 27 tonnes over 1,900 nautical miles. Lim says: “The A320 P2F and A321 P2F will be excellent workhorses which would offer aircraft operators great value and efficiency.”
The companies say the A320 and A321 P2F programmes will be a similar collaboration to the Airbus A330 P2F conversions launched in 2013. Egyptair Cargo became the launch customer for the A330 P2F when it ordered two A330-200 in December 2014. The A330-300P2F is expected to enter service in 2017, followed by the A330-200P2F in mid-2018.
ST Aerospace will increase its stake in EFW from 35 per cent to 55 per cent in a deal, which it hopes to close by the fourth quarter of 2015, subject to regulatory approval. ST Aerospace will be issued with EFW shares worth 146.3 million Singapore dollars ($108.7 million).