Vietnam Airlines to Acquire 2 Airbus A321 Freighter Conversions

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  • Vietnam Airlines Getty
    Vietnamese airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:
    NV/HNV

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Hub(s):
    Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City)

    Year of foundation:
    1956

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    CEO:
    Lê Hồng Hà

    Country:
    Vietnam

While analysts say the air cargo market could face a downturn, airlines are still busy ordering dedicated freighters and conversions. Joining the pack is Vietnam Airlines, which will take two Airbus A321 passenger-cargo (P2F) aircraft and enter the dedicated cargo market.


As reported by ch-aviation, during the quarterly earnings call of the U.S.-based Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), the company announced that it had entered into a sale, P2F conversion and leaseback agreement with Vietnam Airlines for two of the carrier’s Airbus A321-200s. . ATSG CEO and President Rich Corrado said evenly:

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“We are buying two A321s from them. We are converting them into freighters and leasing them to them.”

Vietnam Airlines has 48 Airbus A321ceos in its fleet, of which it owns all but 14. Meanwhile, the carrier also owns 20 A321neos, all of which are leased. The next P2F conversions will be the first dedicated freighters operated by the airline.

Vietnam Airlines has upgraded its narrow-body fleet with A321neo aircraft. Photo: Airbus


Interlining between passenger and cargo versions

The Airbus A320/A321P2F conversion program was launched in 2015 as a joint venture between ST Engineering, Airbus and Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW). A converted A321 offers up to 27 tonnes of payload, with up to 14 full container positions on the main deck, plus what Airbus has called the “A320 Family Single Container” with up to ten full container positions. containers and pallet loading capacity on the lower deck.

According to ch-aviation data, eight units have been converted so far, operating for customers including Qantas Freight, EAT Leipzig and Lufthansa Cargo.

In a 2021 interview by Airbus Technical Writer Martin Fendt, EFW’s Thomas Centner described the advantages of a P2F A321 over its competitors,

“The strength of the A321 is clearly its ability to accommodate fully containerized cargo on both decks – a game changer in this cargo size segment, and something not available on cargo hubs competitors up to the B757. We also highlight the A320 family. single cargo bay (i.e. lower deck) which allows the operation of a mixed fleet and interlining between Airbus single-aisle passenger aircraft and freighters, which is a significant operational and commercial advantage for airlines.

The A321P2F is equipped with a sliding door to allow access to the main deck cargo hold. Photo: EFW

The freight market faces a post-pandemic growth problem

Buoyed by expectations after a few years of an unprecedented air cargo boom, it looked like the industry could stay on a positive trajectory forever. While passenger planes that were temporarily converted to so-called preighters at the height of the pandemic have since been repurposed to carry their originally intended freight – people – airlines have frequently invested in dedicated cargo planes.

However, in July this year, the air cargo market was 9% lower than in the same month a year earlier. Economic and political uncertainties have had an impact on world trade and, consequently, on air freight. Meanwhile, fares have increased by 121% compared to June 2021. The price of jet fuel has increased by just over 60% during the same period, so it is not entirely related to the cost of fuel but largely on demand. But the pandemic-only boom in cargo services appears to have stalled.

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