Italian modification specialist hopes to tap into lucrative market for hub-and-spoke cargo business

Aeronavali is stepping up efforts to break into the potentially lucrative market for new and converted freighter aircraft in China after an initial marketing drive in 2001 generated interest among several prospective operators.

The Italian modification specialist, which is part of Alenia, is initially focusing on the ATR 42/72 turboprop line but also sees demand for the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, as well as other widebody cargo aircraft such as the Boeing MD-11 and 767.

"We have a team of people in China right now to re-propose the potential of these aircraft," says Aeronavali commercial director Gianni Tritto. "Looking at the potential growth that is going to happen in China over the next 20 years it will be necessary to have a hub-and-spoke [cargo] network," he adds.

Aeronavali held a conference in Chengdu recently to brief Chinese operators on the ATR 42 and stretched 72. ATR and Aeronavali aim to secure a supplemental type certificate by June to offer both types with an enlarged side cargo door. The first ATR 72 equipped with the new door, which costs about $1 million to install, has been ordered by Farnair of Switzerland.

Aeronavali, which has DC-10/ MD-11 cargo conversion lines in Venice and Naples, is also looking at placing converted DC-10 freighters with Chinese airlines.

The company is also developing a yet-to-be launched 767 conversion with Boeing.

There are a large number of surplus DC-10s on the market which could be suitable for conversion, and Tritto says the company "is really open to the idea" of setting up a conversion line in China.

Dresden, Germany-based EADS subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) is also eyeing the China market and hopes to win Airbus A300-600 conversion business as the type is already in passenger service in the country.

Source: Flight International