Airbus believes that freight-converted A330s will play an important role in the medium-capacity freighter market over the next 20 years.
The airframer launched the ‘P2F’ conversion programme at the 2012 Singapore Air Show in conjunction with EADS EFW and ST Aerospace, which will offer conversions on both the A330-200 and the larger, but shorter-ranging, -300.
Airbus's vice-president freighters Andreas Hermann says that the development work on the conversion is “well under progress” with the three companies, and is on track to roll out in 2016 or 2017.
He says that the airframer has been in discussions with some potential clients, but is not likely to announce any orders soon, given that lead times for conversions are small.
“I think that we should not forget that this market in itself is a very specific market with short lead times,” says Hermann.
In its latest freighter aircraft forecast, Airbus projects that there will be demand for 1,237 midsize freighters with payloads of between 30 and 80t capacity over the next 20 years. It adds that 824 are expected to be converted from passenger aircraft.
Hermann says that the P2F programme will appeal more to low-utilisation operators who will benefit from the smaller capital costs, while new-build A330-200Fs will be more suited to express operators who have higher utilisation.
He adds that the larger capacity of the A330-300P2F would also appeal to the express freight market, which is expected to grow strongly in the Asia Pacific region over the next 20 years.
“Looking at the market, we’re very well positioned with the A330-300P2F for when that comes to market in 2016/17,” says Hermann.