Airbus might launch an A330-300 passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion programme this year, in order to meet customer demand lining up with timelines for available airframes.
It is targeting a 2013 or 2014 entry into service as part of a programme that will convert existing passenger A330-300 aircraft to freighters, says Didier Lenormand, head of marketing for freighter aircraft, at the Singapore Airshow.
"There is a need for replacement which is identified now and with the time scale of design, we would need to start this year," he adds.
"The -300 would be not a long haul airplane but a medium range aircraft, so their utilisation is low which doesn't justify a new build airplane per se. We may do it, but the priority is to consider a solution around a converted aircraft, just because it is a smaller market," says Lenormand.
He adds that the likely customers for such an aircraft, which would have a range of 4,000nm, would be the four cargo integrators FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL.
All the factors driving a decision are "falling together in the right order", says Lenormand.
These factors include the need for replacement for existing freighter aircraft, the timing of design, the availability of retiring first generation A330-300 aircraft, and the availability of a P2F solution.