In a company statement on 08 JAN 20, Air Atlanta Icelandic (AAI) announced that it plans to modernize its fleet over the next few years, as it phases out its ageing 747-400s.
Whilst, historically, it has operated a very varied fleet of narrow and widebody aircraft, ACMI and charter airline Air Atlanta Icelandic now specializes in 747 operations and has one of the
world’s largest fleets of 747-400s.
It is this fleet of seven passenger 747-400s and five 747-400 freighters (three 747-400BDSFs, a 747-400BCF, and a 747-400F) that are getting on in years and will require replacement soon.
AAI’s VP Sales & Marketing, Unndór Jónsson, stated that the passenger-configured 747-400s currently in operation for Saudi Arabian Airlines, are due to be replaced first, given that replacement options for passenger aircraft are more easily available. AAI will probably opt for 777s or perhaps A330s, within the next 3 to 5 years.
PAX OK, CAO problematic.
Freighter replacements, on the other hand, are more problematic, as Baldvin Hermannsson, AAI’s newly appointed CEO, confirmed: “The availability of good 747-400s is limited and our existing fleet will start to fade out gradually in a few years’ time.” The focus is on a cost-effective solution for the five freighters currently in operation for the likes of UK-based Magma Aviation and Kenya’s Astral Aviation, amongst others.
Boeing stopped its 747-400 passenger-to-freighter conversions a few years back already, however, Boeing has been cooperating with Bedek Aviation Group over the past few years to come up with a 777-300ER P2F program, as the oldest 777-300ERs will be start to come out of passenger service in 2022 and become candidates for freighter conversions soon. It remains to be seen if these conversions can be carried out at a viable cost to be attractive to AAI. What is certain, is that AAI’s freighter replacement will not happen in the next five years and they have not yet decided on the final option.
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