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Qantas Is Expanding Its Freight Fleet In Australia To Accommodate The Demand For Online Shopping

Qantas Is Expanding Its Freight Fleet In Australia To Accommodate The Demand For Online Shopping
Qantas Airways of Australia announced on Monday that it would add six Airbus SE A321 converted freighters to its domestic fleet to replace five ageing Boeing Co 737s and enhance capacity to meet an increase in demand from online shopping.
The A321 freighters will be sourced on the open market and converted from carrying passengers to cargo after commercial discussions, according to the airline, with the planes slated to arrive between early 2024 and mid-2026.
The freighters will join three other A321s currently in the airline's domestic cargo fleet, increasing carrying capacity because the A321s have a cargo capacity of 23 tonnes, nine tonnes more than the 737s.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline's freight segment was one of the group's standout performers during the pandemic as Australians moved to online shopping.
"While some of that shift is temporary, demand remains well-above pre-pandemic levels even with the lifting of almost all COVID-related restrictions," he said in a statement.
Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, a key conversion company for A321 passenger planes to freighters, reported this week that conversion demand remained high, with orders for the model scheduled through 2025.
The shortage of passenger airline cargo-carrying capacity during the pandemic drove up freight rates, delayed the retirement of older models like MD-11s, and prompted lessors to scramble to convert unwanted passenger planes into freighters. 
However, the strong cargo demand that kept passenger-depleted airlines afloat throughout the pandemic is fading amid rising economic uncertainty, fueled in part by high inflation.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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