Qantas to convert Airbus A300 passenger aircraft to freighters to meet demand from online shopping boom
The surge in online commerce has prompted Qantas to convert two of its 300-passenger Airbus A330s into freighters for both domestic and international routes that support Australia Post’s mail and parcel business.
Qantas Freight will also receive its third Airbus A321P2F freighter this week, which will also operate for Australia Post. The aircraft previously operated passenger services for sister airline Jetstar.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said converting the two wide-body A330 aircraft would significantly increase capacity for freight.
“Our freight business has boomed during the pandemic, and while some of that is temporary, COVID has accelerated the permanent expansion of e-commerce and online shopping in this country,” Mr Joyce said.
“That’s why we’re working with key partners like Australia Post to respond to this structural change and increase the amount of parcels that we can carry by air to ensure they arrive to people’s homes as quickly as possible.
“The converted A330 aircraft for Australia Post will be able to carry around 50 tonnes of cargo each flight, more than double the capacity of other freighters operating for the national postal service.”
The aircraft will be converted by EFW, a joint venture between Airbus and ST Engineering. Conversion work will include removing seats, replacing the existing cabin door with a larger door and the installation of a cargo handling system.
The first A330 aircraft will start its conversion in August 2022 and is expected to start operating in mid-2023, with the second to start operating in late 2023.
Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham said the new aircraft would provide an important boost to the service’s existing dedicated air freighter network operated by Qantas.
“Australia Post plays a critical role in connecting Australian businesses and communities to each other and the rest of the world, and this has never been more evident than through the global pandemic where e-commerce has grown by more than 76 per cent when compared to just two years ago,” Mr Graham said.
“The two A321P2F aircraft already in the skies, and the third taking off this month, provide our network with critical additional capacity and flexibility.
“We are thrilled to have these new aircraft in our network as we prepare to deliver the biggest Christmas in Australia Post history. Last December we delivered a record 52 million parcels and uplifted over 7.4 million kilograms of air freight, and we fully expect to eclipse these volumes this year.”
After the conversions, Qantas will operate up to 25 dedicated freighter aircraft.
Qantas Freight recorded a recorded $345 million in for the group last financial year.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails