Max Kingsley Jones/LONDON

UPS Airlines is expected to conclude a deal in the next few weeks to acquire up to 30 Boeing MD-11converted freighters, including 15 ex-Delta Air Lines aircraft.

The airline arm of US integrator United Parcel Service has been studying various options to meet its long-range freighter (LRF) requirement since 1998, as a follow-on to its order for 30 Airbus A300-600Fs to satisfy an earlier widebody regional freighter (WRF) requirement. The company holds options for 30 more A300Fs, and is also planning to acquire additional converted A300-600Fs.

The LRF is aimed primarily at replacing the carrier's fleet of 17 Boeing 747-100/200Fs as well as meeting its needs for a long range aircraft to operate on planned services to Asia.

UPS is understood to be finalising a deal with Boeing to acquire Delta Air Lines' fleet of 15 Pratt & Whitney powered MD-11s to be converted to freighters by Boeing Airplane Services (BAS) and delivered within two years.

It is believed that an outline agreement has already been reached by the parties involved. Releasing the Delta aircraft to UPS could prove problematic, however, as the aircraft's original financing deal involves tax leases.

UPS is thought to require around 30 aircraft, and additional passenger MD-11s may be acquired from other sources.

A deal for up to 20 Boeing 747-400Fs has also been considered, but the carrier is currently in discussions with Boeing over the acquisition of 747-200 and 300 aircraft.

Source: Flight International