Challenge launches Omega DC-10 freighter programme

Challenge Air Cargo is set to be the launch customer for the Omega Air-backed McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 freighter-conversion programme, with the acquisition of up to five aircraft, starting in 1998.

According to company president Bill Spohrer, the Miami-based regional freight operator is in final negotiations to lease two aircraft, with an option on a further three. The decision to acquire the DC-10s, all on dry/operating leases, was "dictated by a very competitive lease rate and good payload and fuel-consumption capabilities", says Spohrer. He adds that the two aircraft will be delivered in April/May and August/ September 1998, following conversion to freighters by Aeronavali at its plant in Venice, Italy.

"We will have an option to take three more aircraft in 1999, 2000 and 2001 respectively", he says.

Ten Forty, a special-purpose company headed by Irish leasing specialist Omega Air, concluded a $170 million deal in August to purchase Japan Airlines' fleet of 20 DC-10-40s, for sale or lease.

Challenge operates its fleet of three leased Boeing 757-200 freighters and a single Boeing 707-300F to 19 cities in 15 Latin American countries, from its hub at Miami. The carrier had wet-leased a pair of DC-10-30s through much of 1997 from US supplemental Gemini Air Cargo, and one aircraft remains in service pending delivery of the Omega units.


Source: Flight International