By Victor Shalton
Emirates Converts Passenger Aircraft into Freighters
Dubai, the United Arab Emirates-based Emirates will convert six more of its Boeing 777s into freighters which will serve to provide capacity growth, according to Cargo Facts. The Gulf carrier will decide which units to send for conversion based on “a number of factors” but declined to identify specific airframes according to Cargo Facts.
Emirates SkyCargo — with its dedicated cargo division — was a launch customer for the Boeing 777F, and the airframe has been at the heart of the carrier’s operations since 2009. The aircraft’s range and payload capabilities allow time and temperature-sensitive shipments to be transported rapidly and efficiently from origin to destination.
The airline still had eight reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER passenger freighters in operation, and according to multiple reports three already earmarked for conversion will not return to passenger configuration. The oldest unit currently in the fleet, the 2006-vintage unit, is still flying without its seats.
Together with the four 777-300ERSF conversions with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) that Emirates announced at the Dubai Airshow in November 2021, the carrier’s freighter fleet will now include ten converted 777s.
Emirates recently took delivery of a 777F — its first new freighter delivery since 2015 — from Boeing in May. That aircraft arrived in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on May 28 — joining a fleet of ten other 777Fs and will be followed by another new 777F to be delivered in June.
The airline said in a statement that it expects to have a fleet of twenty freighters by the end of 2026, with the two new production units and the ten incoming conversions.
Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President, Emirates SkyCargo said, “Our newest freighter adds welcome capacity to our operations, which have been running at full steam throughout the pandemic to serve our customers and keep global supply chains moving. We are scheduled to receive delivery of a second 777F in June. In 2023, we will begin a program to convert four-passenger 777 aircraft into freighters and all of the converted aircraft will be re-delivered by the end of 2024.”
The carrier’s conversions will be among the first to move through the Israeli aerospace and defense company’s conversion line in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
“These investments reflect our commitment to serving our customers with the best possible assets, as well as to enabling the movement of vital goods and trade flows through Dubai. Emirates SkyCargo will continue its journey as one of the world’s largest and best air cargo airlines, by investing in our fleet, our global network, technology, and world-class logistics infrastructure at our Dubai hub,” Sultan added.
Other ex-Emirates 777-300ERs will soon be born anew as freighters with AerCap, a co-investor in IAI’s “Big Twin” program, having sent two units (32788 and 32789) to Tel Aviv, Israel for conversion with IAI. It plans to return two of the B777-200Fs leased from DAE Capital as the converted 777-300ERs start delivering to reach a target freighter fleet size of 20 units.
The first four converted B777-300(ERSF)s are scheduled to deliver between 2023 and 2024; the incremental six will continue delivering through 2026.