Airlines Are Changing Passenger Jets to Carry Products
Air travel companies are permanently changing their older passenger jets into airplanes that carry goods for trade.
The companies expect a large increase in e-commerce in the future. At the same time, the value of used passenger airplanes is falling because coronavirus restrictions mean that fewer people are traveling. Air Canada and China's CDB Aviation are just a few of the companies making the changes.
As a result, companies that convert, or change, passenger planes into freighter planes see a big chance for more business. These permanent changes are sometimes called P2F, or passenger-to-freighter, conversions.
Cirium, a company that studies aviation data, expects the number of P2F conversions will rise by 36 percent to 90 planes in 2021. That number could increase to 109 airplanes in 2022.
Chris Seymour is Cirium's Head of Market Analysis. "We estimate that most slots are sold for 2021 and at least 40% for 2022," Seymour said.
The business advisory company Ishka said the value of 15-year-old planes has fallen between 20 percent and 47 percent since the start of the year. This drop in value makes freighter conversions more attractive, or pleasing, to businesses.
P2F conversions are more costly than temporary conversions that many airlines have made during the coronavirus health crisis.
Temporary conversions remove passenger seats to carry more freight. Permanent conversions are a financial prediction that air freight demand will remain strong for years to come as people buy more online. Freight demand was weak before the COVID-19 crisis. The airline industry estimates it will take until 2024 for passenger traffic to return to 2019 levels.
Normally, about half of the world's freight is carried inside passenger planes. "2020 has seen record high freighter aircraft" use, said CDB Aviation chief executive Patrick Hannigan.
P2F conversions cost millions of dollars in addition to the cost of the aircraft. They also take three to four months to complete, said ST Engineering Aerospace president Jeffrey Lam. His company plans to convert at least 18 A321 planes next year. That is eight more than in 2020. "We are all booked out for 2021 for aircraft conversions," Lam said. "The first slots are well into 2022."
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said it can convert 18 or more 767s each year. The company produces most of those used by Amazon.com Inc. "We are investing a lot of effort to meet the market demand," said Yosef Melamed, general manager of IAI's aviation group.
U.S.-based Aeronautical Engineers is also seeing a large increase in demand for conversions, said Robert Convey. He is a vice president for sales and marketing for the company. The move to more airplane conversions is also helping aviation repair and overhaul companies. They have lost some of their business from the decrease in passenger air travel.
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这些公司预计未来电子商务将大幅度增长。与此同时，因为新冠病毒限制措施意味着出行人数减少，二手飞机的价值将会下跌 。加拿大航空和中国国开行航空采取类似措施的部分公司 。
克里斯·西摩（Chris Seymour）是Cirium公司的市场分析主管。西摩表示：“我们估算，2021年的改装订单大部分已经被预订，2022年的改造订单至少售出40% 。”
临时改装是撤掉乘客座椅，运送更多货物。而永久改装是一项金融押注，预测随着人们逐渐转战网购，未来数年航空货运需求将保持强劲势头 。在新冠肺炎危机爆发之前，货运需求疲软 。航空业估计，至少要到2024年客运量才能恢复到2019年的水平 。
除了飞机成本之外，客改货还需要花费数百万美元。ST Engineering Aerospace公司总裁杰弗里·莱姆表示，客改货需要三到四个月时间才能完成 。他的公司计划明年至少改装18架空客A321飞机 。比2020年增加了8架 。莱姆表示：“2021年的飞机改装订单名额已满 。最早的改装订单到2022年 。”
以色列航空航天工业公司称其每年可以改装至少18架波音767型飞机。该公司改装了亚马逊公司使用的大部分货机 。以色列航空航天工业公司旗下航空集团总经理尤瑟夫·梅拉姆德表示：“我们投入了大量精力来满足市场需求 。”
罗伯特·康维表示，总部位于美国的Aeronautical Engineers公司也看到了改装需求的大幅增长。康维是该公司的销售和营销副总裁 。改装更多飞机也有助于航空检修公司 。由于航空旅行的减少，他们失去了部分业务 。