Vallair, launch customer of the Airbus A321 freighter, says it is pioneering the first passenger to freighter conversions to be undertaken in China. “We are excited to be embarking on the next phase of our A321 passenger to freighter conversion activity” says Gregoire Lebigot, CEO of Vallair. “MSN 1017 will be the first of nine aircraft scheduled to be converted in China, this is an important milestone.”
The work is being undertaken for Vallair by EFW at the ST Engineering facility in Guangzhou and the aircraft is planned for delivery in Q3 2021 to cargo-operator, SmartLynx.
Vallair has previously partnered with EFW in Asia on the conversion of its inaugural A321F. This was undertaken at its Singapore facility and delivered to launch operator Qantas Freight in October. Recently, the Company signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with US operator GlobalX for ten conversions, and it has leased a further two to SmartLynx Malta.
Lebigot goes on to say that the conversion of a younger aircraft variant will ensure that operators are flying with newer technologies and as the aircraft is still in production, few supply chain issues are anticipated. “Vallair is keen to introduce the A321F to the Chinese market as we see strong potential for the freighter in its active e-commerce sector. Our decision to commission the conversion process for a significant number of our lease portfolio ‘in-country’ demonstrates not only our confidence in the future implementation of this type, but also our commitment to local technical and engineering resources.”
Vallair’s data confirms that the A321 freighter variant is better for the environment due to its 20% reduction in fuel burn, and the aircraft offers exceptional range, payload, and cost benefits. The innovative design benefits from a lower cargo hold allowing it to offer shipping of containerised cargo in addition to its normal cargo positions. From an air logistics point of view, this then makes the A321F an attractive, and cost-effective proposition as the ability to offer containerisation of cargo reduces turn-around times and therefore increases load efficiency.