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ATSG delivers more freighters amid tight market for used 767s

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) recently delivered another seven Boeing 767 Freighters, making good on commitments to airline customers despite a tight market for used 767s, the company says.

Already this quarter, ATSG's leasing subsidiaries delivered one 767-300F to Florida-based Amerijet International Airlines and two 767-300Fs to Canada's Cargojet Airways.

The companies also delivered two 767-200Fs during the period: one to Poland's SkyTaxi and one to Sweden-based West Atlantic, ATSG says.

Wilmington, Ohio-based ATSG's leasing subsidiaries include Cargo Aircraft Management and ATSG West Leasing,

In addition, ATSG's wholly-owned airline Air Transport International acquired two 767-300Fs in the fourth quarter, the company says.

The deliveries reflect a healthy cargo market and continued demand for freighter-converted 767s, ATSG's chief commercial officer Mike Berger tells FlightGlobal.

Cargo airlines and cargo aircraft leasing companies have scooped up used 767s recently amid a broad uptick in air cargo and surging demand for e-commerce, executives have said.

The cargo market logged particularly strong growth in 2017, when world air cargo volumes jumped 9% year-over-year, according to IATA. Growth slowed in 2017, but demand remains strong, Berger says.

"The market is very tight in regards to aircraft availability," he says. "There's always aircraft out there. The question is, how much do you want to pay?"

Used 767s became even scarcer due to recent problems with some blades in the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines that power 787s. Those issues forced some airlines to ground 787s, reduce over-water flight times and keep 767s in service longer, says Berger.

"The folks that were going to retire or upgrade to the 787 are holding on to the 767 longer, which has created the challenge," he says.

Berger declines to say how much a used 767 might cost, noting prices vary significantly based primarily on engine condition.

A fourth quarter report from Flight Values Analyzer says values of used 767-300ERs have recently "rose sharply" – as much as 30% for some aircraft built in the 1990s. Used 767s are worth between about $5.5 million for aircraft built in 1985 and $37.6 million for those manufactured in 2014, the report says.

About 770 767s remain in service worldwide, including 439 in passenger configurations and 296 freighters, the data shows.

Despite tight supply, ATSG has met its 2018 goal of delivering 10 767-300Fs.

'We have been fortunate. Our pipeline… has been solid," Berger says.

Recent aircraft acquired by ATSG and its affiliates have come from operators in places like the USA, Australia and Japan. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) performs nearly all ATSG's 767 freighter conversions, Berger says.

ATSG's fleet now includes 91 aircraft, including 13 aircraft it acquired with the November purchase of Omni Air International.

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