Airhub Aviation announced on December 10th that had inducted its second Airbus A340-300 into its fleet. The aircraft, having once flown passengers with Finnair and then Air Belgium, has been converted to a “preighter,” with its interior furnishings removed. Making the most of global supply chain snarls, the jet will now be deployed on long-haul cargo routes around the world.
Accommodating cargo demand
Friday saw Lithuania-based Airhub Aviation announce the inception of its second A340-300 (MSN 938) into its fleet. The four-engine widebody bears the Maltese registration 9H-HOP and has been converted from passenger to a Zero LOPA configuration (aircraft interiors removed). LOPA is short for “layout of passenger accommodations.”
“The induction of a second A340 in Zero LOPA Configuration will offer our clients additional capacity to accommodate the cargo demand, which is showing no sign of slowing.” -Husam Kharoufah, Vice President of Commercial, Airhub Aviation
The conversion of the ex-Air Belgium widebody was completed by the firm Aviatic MRO at its facilities in Siauliai International Airport (SQQ) in Lithuania. Romas Zakys, Chief Technical Officer at Aviatic MRO, notes that the converted aircraft has a maximum volume capacity of 250 cubic meters with a maximum cargo weight of 56 tons.
It should be noted that conversion to Zero LOPA is not the same as conversion to a full freighter.
The airline notes that its newest preighter will be deployed on long-haul routes moving cargo between Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
You may notice that North America is absent from the list. That’s because Airhub Aviation is in the last stages of getting FAA exemption to carry cargo in its cabin from/to the US – “one of the largest cargo markets in the world,” Kharoufah notes, adding “that will enable our customers to meet their needs and explore new opportunities.”
As a wet lease operator, having worldwide acceptance of the aircraft will indeed be a massive boost to its customer appeal and operability, with the North American market no doubt being key to success in the hot freight market.
A subsidiary of GetJet airlines, the wet lease operator also notes that it is continuously expanding its fleet. Indeed, Airhub expects to have three additional A340 preighters by summer 2022 in addition to the two that it now has, for a total of five. The airline already operates three Airbus A320s in an all-economy configuration.
However, it doesn’t stop there as the operator aims to also have two Airbus A330s, and six Boeing 737-800s by that time as well. “The configuration of A330 will depend on the market dynamics,” Kharoufah adds.
What do you think of Airhub’s A340-acquisition strategy? And are you excited to see a number of these quad jets find new lives operating as makeshift cargo aircraft? Share your reactions with us by leaving a comment.