Latvia-based SmartLynx Airlines, an ACMI charter and cargo operator, has announced an addition of four A321Fs to its growing cargo fleet.
The additional freighters will be used on flights in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America as part of a sales-leaseback agreement with Aero Capital Solutions, Inc. (ACS).
All four A321Fs–MSN 941, 961, 1185, and 1241–will be registered in Malta after passenger-to-freighter conversions by Precision Aircraft Solutions (Precision) and Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW).
SmartLynx said its main focus will still be on passenger operations, but it expects its cargo volumes to grow from 10 percent to around 40 percent in the next two to three years.
“I can admit that at the beginning there were doubts if it was the right move for SmartLynx, but from today`s perspective, taking that risk and diversifying our business portfolio with cargo operations has proven to be the right choice,” said Zygimantas Surintas, CEO of SmartLynx Airlines.
Surintas also noted that the current demand for the A321P2F is very high–even higher than the conversion capacity. SmartLynx was one of the first airlines to sign up to the program and secure multiple P2F conversion slots.
The A321P2Fs to be delivered as part of the sale-leaseback agreement will bring the airline’s fleet to a total of 15 active aircraft of the type by the first half of 2023. The airline is eyeing 20 Airbus narrowbody freighters by the end of the same year. It plans to become the largest operator of the narrowbody converted freighter in the near future.
Aero Capital Solutions earlier this month announced the launch of its A321 freighter conversion joint program with SmartLynx, as a complement to its current 40-aircraft B737-800SF P2F program. ACS will act as lessor and financier, whilst SmartLynx will be the operator after conversion completion.