Belarusian cargo specialist Transaviaexport has taken delivery of a Boeing 747-300F freighter. According to Deputy Director Artem Sikorsky, the aircraft, Reg No EW-465TQ, has performed its first revenue flight, to Ecuador, delivering Belarusian humanitarian aid as part of the international relief effort following an earthquake in that country in April 2016.
Transaviaexport already has aircrew qualified on type for the dry-leased aircraft. The new airliner joined the carrier’s two wet-leased Boeing 747-200Fs, which might be switched to a dry-lease scheme in the future. Sikorsky confirmed for Russian Aviation Insider that work is already on to revise the lease contracts accordingly, but noted that the company “is no longer particularly interested in operating the -200F version; we will gradually replace them with Boeing 747-400Fs.”
Sikorsky did not specify when that might happen: “For the time being, there is a market demand for the Boeing 747-200/300 series, so we will decide on them depending on the market situation.”
Transaviaexport is using its -200Fs and -300F for charter operations, and is aiming to develop a network of scheduled flights with Boeing 747-400Fs. “We began with the Classic [-200] series,” Sikorsky explains. “Their operational costs are higher, but so far we have been fine from a financial point of view because we have been mostly operating charter flights. We do realize that transferring to the scheduled market will require other, more efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-400F. We are now looking into the possibility of taking such aircraft under financial lease contracts. We are in talks with different organizations to procure -400Fs; this move is included in our business plan.”
Sikorsky declined to give any timeline for introducing the new type, but noted that the carrier was already planning scheduled routes on which it could be used: “We are not rushing it; we need to be sure that our partners are interested in these [scheduled] routes.”
Transaviaexport is also looking to start providing line maintenance services on its own Boeing fleet in the future, but there are no immediate plans to develop base-maintenance competencies because such work would be difficult to finance, Sikorsky said.
The carrier also has a fleet of Ilyushin Il-76 freighters, and is working actively to restore their airworthiness. In late November 2015, when Transaviaexport’s top management was replaced, only three of the type were flying; now the company has five airworthy Il-76s, and two or three more might be de-mothballed and returned to the air by year-end.
As was earlier reported, Transaviaexport had asked OEM Ilyushin to be put on the waiting list for the upgraded Il-76TD-90 version. Back then, the carrier was looking to acquire at least two such aircraft, but deliveries would not follow before 2017. Transaviaexport at the time explained its interest in the new modification by the fact that it already had an Il-76 maintenance base in place.
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