Qantas to convert two Airbus A330 into freighters as e-commerce increases

To meet growing e-commerce demand, Australian carrier Qantas has announced that it will convert two of its Airbus A330 passenger aircraft into widebody freighters. 

One of the converted freighters will be used in Qantas Freight’s international network, while the other will be a new addition to the dedicated fleet that serves Australia Post’s domestic parcel and mail business.

Qantas Freight will receive its third Airbus A321P2F freighter this week and will also operate for Australia Post. The narrowbody aircraft previously operated passenger services for Jetstar. The freighter will provide additional capacity ahead of what is expected to be the busiest Christmas period ever for air cargo.

Singapore-based technology, defense and engineering group ST Engineering completed the A321P2F conversion for Qantas Freight and posted photos of the aircraft on Facebook.

“This latest A321P2F freighter, converted from a passenger aircraft VH-VWY previously flown by Jetstar, is the third to be delivered to Qantas Freight. Together, the three A321P2F freighters form part of the fleet dedicated to Australia Post. These A321P2F freighters are the result of a collaboration between Airbus, Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH and ST Engineering, with the latest being part of ST Engineering’s end-to-end solution in asset management and freighter conversions. Qantas Freight will operate the newest freighter under registration VH-ULY, which entered into its first service on December 6, 2021,” ST Engineering said in its Facebook post. 

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image from ST Engineering Facebook Page

st_engineering_converts_qf_a321p2f_

image from ST Engineering Facebook Page

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the conversion of the two widebody A330 aircraft would significantly increase capacity for both domestic and international freight.

“Our freight business has boomed during the pandemic and while some of that is temporary, COVID has accelerated the permanent expansion of eCommerce and online shopping in this country,” Joyce said in an online statement.

“That’s why we’re working with key partners like Australia Post to respond to this structural change and increase the amount of parcels that we can carry by air to ensure they arrive at people’s homes as quickly as possible.”

Joyce continued: “The converted A330 aircraft for Australia Post will be able to carry around 50 tonnes of cargo each flight, more than double the capacity of other freighters operating for the national postal service.”

The aircraft will be converted by EFW, a joint venture between Airbus and ST Engineering. Conversion work will include removing seats, replacing the existing cabin door with a larger door and the installation of a cargo handling system.

The first A330 aircraft, which will be utilized by Australia Post, will start its conversion in August 2022 and is expected to start operating in mid-2023 with the second to start operating in late 2023.

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