AELF FlightService has announced its fifth Airbus 330-200 is officially on certificate, flying in PAX-freighter configuration with seats removed.
The aircraft (registered as 9H-CFS) commenced its first commercial flight in temporary freighter configuration on April 23, flying from Vietnam to the US.
ACMI widebody charter operators in the world in terms of fleet size.
AELF’s five A330s preighters have had their passenger seats removed, while cargo nets have been installed to hold parcel freight in the upper deck, in addition to the standard freight capacity in the lower deck.
The configuration is reversible in a matter of weeks, which the company plans to exercise this summer.
“As supply chain issues drag on, the addition of 9H-CFS is our commitment to fulfilling the need for capacity in the air cargo market in the short-term, while maximising our flexibility to return to passenger service later this year,” said Joe Cirillo, chief operating officer at the ACMI widebody charter operator.
As AELF FlightService commences passenger flights this summer, it will do so with the addition of its sixth A330-200.
This recently acquired aircraft is configured with a new passenger interior accommodating 295 passengers.
An additional three of the company’s A330s will also be converted back to passenger configuration by August. The A330 fleet will be operated by the company’s affiliate Maleth Aero.
“The flexibility of the configuration was a draw for us from the beginning,” said Lee Jones, president of Maleth Aero.
“Anticipating an inevitable return of passenger demand and a time limit from EASA on the preighter exemption, we looked to the option that would provide a solution for our cargo customers but also allow us to adapt to the regulatory environment and the marketplace.”
At the onset of the pandemic, AELF expanded its core business as an aircraft lessor to meet the needs of an overwhelmed cargo market.
In 2020, the company, together with European partners, led the acquisition of the controlling interest in Malta-based airline Maleth Aero, expanding the group’s offerings to charter and ACMI flights.
With the acquisition mentioned above, the group now has a total of nine widebody aircraft in operation.
While the fleet will undergo transformation to passenger configuration this summer, the group is also exploring its options for a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that will allow continued operation of the PTF configuration for one or more of its aircraft beyond the EASA preighter exemption deadline.
AELF FlightService offers a full spectrum of air freight and passenger services including single charter flights and mid-term ACMI/wet and damp leases, as well as more traditional liquidity solutions such as long-term operating leases, sale and leasebacks, sale and wet leasebacks, among other services.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently announced it will put a stop to cargo-in-the-cabin flights beyond July 31.