A330 conversion unlikely to be available near-term

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Airbus does not intend near-term development of an A330 freighter conversion programme, despite Qatar Airways' threat to take Boeing 767 cargo aircraft if it cannot modify its A330s.

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker stated during the Dubai air show that he would seek 20 to 29 767s because there had been no progress on a conversion scheme.

Airbus is "unable to provide this option", he said. "This way, we're pushed to start negotiating [for 767s]."

There is no conversion programme for either the A330-200 or -300, but the -200F is available as a new-build cargo aircraft from Airbus. The airframer has sold 61 of the type, the latest four to Avianca.

Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said the cargo sector was a "small market" for the airframer and that it was already "limited in recourses" given its focus on the A320neo and A350.

"Doing a passenger-to-freighter conversion [for the A330] is on the list, but relatively far down that list," he said.

"We may look at doing it with a joint-venture partner."

During the Dubai show, Qatar Airways identified Singapore's ST Aero as a candidate conversion partner.