For Airbus P2F converter, Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), it is an unusual premiere: The very first re-delivery of an A330P2F to the original aircraft producer Airbus, and the subsequent delivery of the aircraft by owner Airbus to Turkmenistan Airlines. The central Asian carrier was a loyal Boeing customer thus far but will now operate an Airbus aircraft for the very first time.
It is a multiple premiere! The very first re-delivery of an A330-200 aircraft from EFW to customer Airbus, following its P2F conversion in EFW’s hangars in Dresden, Germany. It will also be the very first Airbus jetliner in the fleet of operator Turkmenistan Airlines, based in Ashgabat. So far, the airline from the Caspian region has relied on Boeing aircraft, operating a mix of 25 aircraft, consisting of B717, B737, B757 and B777LR, complemented by three Ilyushin IL-76TDs; a very successful, robust, and popular cargo aircraft manufactured in Russia.
“… in preparation for final delivery”
Back to Airbus; According to sources close to the European frame maker, Turkmenistan Airlines will lease the A330-200P2F. However, the plane maker does not confirm this officially, as it is very reserved in its communication. “The A330-200P2F, recently re-delivered by EFW to Airbus, is currently in preparation for the final delivery to the operator. As usual, it is the customer privilege to communicate details around the delivery and entry-into-service of its aircraft,” states Airbus communications manager, Maria Shlyakhtova. At least she confirms that the aircraft can accommodate 61 tons and transport that load over a distance of 7700 kilometers (4200 nm). The main deck cargo hatch cut into its fuselage, measures 3.6 m x 2.6 m, allowing also voluminous and large items to be brought on board.
Copying the ABC and Silkway West business model
The first A330-200P2F will be followed shortly by another freighter of the same type, which EFW is currently converting in Dresden. With these two aircraft and the three IL-76TDs, Turkmenistan Airlines catapults itself into a higher league. Thanks to the Airbus freighters' range, the carrier can offer customers the carriage of goods between the Far East and Western Europe and vice versa. However, to cover the distance of more than 10,000 kilometers, the A330-200P2F needs to land at its hub, Ashgabat, for refueling. The Turkmen capital is located about half-way between China and the EU.
However, leaving the tank stop aside, the freighter allows Turkmenistan Airlines to copy the business model of the former AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), albeit on a much smaller scale. Or have a similar business model to Silkway West, the state-owned Azeri Airline based in Baku.
Many open questions
No further details on the deal between Airbus and Turkmenistan Airlines are available. Neither party says when the second A330-200P2F is scheduled to be handed over first from EFW to Airbus, and then passed on to T5 (IATA Code) to enter into service. Nor does Turkmenistan Airlines say on what routes it intends to deploy the Airbus conversions or which MRO provider will be responsible for keeping their technical status a jour. All simple questions that are treated like a state secret.
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