Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) may convert more B767 passenger aircraft into freighters in the next few years, a strategy that will help it keep costs low while it grows its cargo business amid a market downturn, a Reuters report said, quoting the airline's CEO, Osamu Shinobe.
ANA currently operates a fleet of 11 B767 freighters, of which eight have been converted from passenger jets to freighters.
Shinobe indicated that in future, ANA could increase its 767 freighter fleet to at least 13 by converting more of its existing 767 passenger aircraft. He added that, in order to keep costs low, ANA prefers to use existing aircraft for cargo, rather than buy new dedicated freighters such as the B777F.
Slowdown in Asian cargo traffic
ANA is the only Japanese airline currently operating cargo planes after rival Japan Airlines retired its freighter fleet several years ago. All aircraft are based at Okinawa’s Nahe Airport, linking major Asian cities with Japan through the carrier’s Okinawan hub.
Asian airlines are among the largest cargo carriers in the world, but growth in shipments has slowed in recent years amid global, and regional, economic uncertainty.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), a trade body for scheduled international airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region, earlier this month reported that although there has been modest growth in air cargo this year, Asia Pacific carriers, particularly those operating dedicated freighter fleets, are seeing a slowdown in traffic, reflecting recent world trade conditions.
Overcapacity is becoming a growing problem
Briefing media on the sidelines of an industry event in Bali last week, AAPA's director general, Andrew Herdman said that the cargo sector is an increasing concern for the Asian carriers, and is becoming a drag on overall results. He noted that an oversupply of freighters was still "hanging over the industry." Future freighter demand is expected to be strong, but at the moment there is a surplus.
Nol van Fenema