080_767-300_N423AX.jpg Nigel Howarth/AWST

ATSG To Acquire 20 Ex-American Airlines 767s

Most, if not all of the CF6-powered aircraft will likely be converted to freighters with acquisitions set to begin next year.

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) will purchase 20 ex-American Airlines Boeing 767-300ERs through 2021 and plans to lease them, likely as converted freighters.

ATSG will acquire the GE CF6-powered 1993-2003-vintage aircraft from Texas-based Jetran, starting in 2019. The anticipated retirement schedule has six aircraft coming next year, up to nine in 2020, and the rest in 2021. ATSG subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management will purchase the aircraft, manage the conversions, and lease the aircraft.

ATSG has not identified any customers. Its current customer list includes Amazon Air, which leases half of its 40-aircraft 767 freighter fleet from ATSG--12 767-200s and eight 767-300s. 

Counting the acquisitions, ATSG's owned fleet will include 59 767-300 freighters. It also has six passenger 767-300s, which are operated by subsidiary and charter specialist Omni Air.

“Our discussions with a number of customers about leasing multiple 767-300s from us for deployment in new and expanding networks give us confidence that the market will remain strong," said ATSG President Joe Hete. "Contracting to acquire these aircraft at good value, along with our unique abilities to convert, lease, operate and maintain them for our customers, is proof of our commitment to serve that market growth for several more years to come.”

ATSG said that while most of the new aircraft will be converted to freighters, one or two could enter passenger service with Omni. The charter operator's customers include the Department of Defense, foreign governments, and commercial companies.

The freighter-conversion and leasing specialist continues to see strong demand for so-called small widebody freighters. It expected to place up to 10 767-300s with customers in 2019, Hete told analysts on a Nov. 2 earnings call, suggesting that the number could go up if more aircraft were acquired.

"The demand for assets that we're hearing across the board is very strong," said COO Rich Corrado. "The deployments that we've done this year, if you look at them, one was in Asia. We're moving some aircraft into the Middle East. We're going to put three more into Europe. And then we put [some] into the U.S. The demand right across the board is very strong. And the demand that we're seeing going into 2019 is again strong in all areas of the world."

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