Lessors swap freighter orders to passenger to fill 787 gap

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US leasing companies Aircastle and Guggenheim Aviation Partners are responding to the increased demand for widebodies, in the wake of Boeing 787 delivery delays, by switching orders for freighter aircraft to passenger versions.

As part of a revision to its 15-strong Airbus A330-200F order, which has seen it reduce the deal to 12, Aircastle has switched an undisclosed number to the passenger version to "provide a more flexible mix of freighter and passenger aircraft".

"There is a very good demand for the passenger aircraft," says chief executive Ron Wainshal. "[Airbus doesn't] have enough [passenger aircraft] capacity available...I think the deal was a win-win for both of us."

He adds that three of the four A330-200Fs scheduled for delivery during the second half of 2010 have been placed with a Chinese operator on long-term lease.

boeing-777f-first-flight 
 © Boeing

Guggenheim, which specialises in cargo aircraft leasing, is understood to be finalising deals to switch some of its A330-200F and Boeing 777F orders.

According to industry sources the lessor - a launch customer for the A330-200F - has switched four of its six orders to the passenger variant. Deliveries of the six A300-200Fs were due to begin in 2010, and Guggenheim has selected both Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to supply engines for some of the aircraft.

Guggenheim is also understood to be finalising a deal to change some of the four 777F orders it holds to the -300ER passenger variant. Sources say that one of these has been placed with an Asian flag-carrier.

Aircastle's Wainshal says that the lessor has completed 80% of its placements for 2009 and adds: "Overall we still anticipate that rentals for these 2009 new leases will be up between 5% and 10% versus the old leases."