Flight International online news 10:30GMT: All Nippon Airways (ANA) is in late-stage talks to become launch customer for the 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF). The Japanese carrier has also linked with Japan Post to establish a joint venture international cargo airline that will take over the operation of ANA’s existing 767-300F fleet.

ANA 767 Large

ANA operates one new-build 767-300F and has three more on order with Boeing. Industry sources confirm that the airline is close to finalising a deal to be the launch customer for Boeing’s proposed 767-300BCF programme. The BCF is understood to have recently received authority to offer from Boeing’s board, which set the launch criteria in terms of numbers of orders and customers.

The number of passenger aircraft the airline is looking at having converted into freighters is not known, but plans for the new joint venture cargo airline call for it to be operating around 10 freighters by 2009.

This will include 767Fs as well as “large widebodies”, says ANA, which recently sold its minority stake in Boeing 747F operator Nippon Cargo Airlines.

Boeing recently outlined its plans to launch the 767-300BCF, saying that it was “talking to customers about the aircraft” and that it was aiming for a launch by year-end and entry-into-service in late 2007. ANA and United Parcel Service are known to be among key operators targeted by Boeing for the conversion.

ANA signed the agreement last week with state-owned Japan Post to start the new international cargo airline in the first half of the 2006 fiscal year. ANA will own two-thirds of the carrier and Japan Post, which is to be privatised, the rest. The airline will take over ANA’s 767-300Fs, but ANA will retain ownership.

Source: Flight International