Central Asian carrier Turkmenistan Airlines is Airbus’ newest customer after its decision to order two A330-200 Passenger-to-Freighter converted aircraft. Prior to this order, the airline had a nearly all-Boeing fleet with the exception of a single Bombardier CRJ-700. The freighters are expected to be delivered in 2022 and will make Turkmenistan Airlines the first operator of the type in Central Asia.
In order to successfully implement the tasks stipulated in the National Programme for the Development of Civil Aviation of Turkmenistan for the years of 2012-2030, His Excellency President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow signed Decree № 2078 on the purchase of two A330-200F cargo aircraft of P2F modification on 7 January 2021. -Government of Turkmenistan
The first A330P2F operator in Central Asia
With the agreement signed on January 18th and announced on January 22nd, 2021, Turkmenistan Airlines is directing its focus on freight and cargo with its latest order. With Airbus noting that “the A330-200P2F will enable the airline to develop further and boost its international cargo route network.”
The airline joins a number of other carriers expanding their dedicated-cargo aircraft. In recent months we saw Air Canada confirm its intent to convert a number of its retired Boeing 767 passenger aircraft into dedicated freighters. Around the same time, SmartLynx announced in October that it would be the first operator of the Airbus A321P2F.
The Airbus A330P2F
Based on the success of the A300/A310P2F conversion program, the A330 passenger to freighter conversion program was launched in 2012, which led to the unveiling of the first A330P2F prototype at the end of 2017. This conversion program is a collaboration between ST Engineering Aerospace, Airbus, and their joint venture Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW). EFW is also responsible for the A321P2F program.
According to Airbus, ST Engineering had the program and technical lead for the engineering development phase, while EFW is the holder and owner for all Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for the current Airbus conversion programs. It leads the industrialization phase and marketing for these programs, while Airbus contributes manufacturer data and certification support.
“Of the approximately 2,700 freighters required during the next 20 years, about half of the total demand will be required in the mid-sized segment of the A330 – including some 900 conversions. As the mid-sized freighter segment has always been the largest in terms of demand, the replacement cycle is continuous.” -Airbus website
About Turkmenistan Airlines
Data from Planespotters.net indicates that Turkmenistan Airlines currently has a fleet of 19 aircraft. At the time of writing, 10 of these jets are active, with the other nine listed as parked. With the exception of one Bombardier CRJ-700, the airline runs an all-Boeing fleet that consists of the following types:
- 12 737s – A mix of -700s and -800s
- Three 757-200s
- Three 777-200s. One of these is listed as a VIP-configuration, presumably for Presidential operations.
At the end of June 2020, the government of Turkmenistan announced its plans to purchase a Boeing 777-200F as part of the country’s plan to become a major center of international transport. The aircraft will come from Frankfurt-based lease company, Aircraft Finance Germany. However, no timeline was given.
The carrier had also announced its intention to take another Boeing 777-200 back in 2019. However, this remains on Boeing’s order books as unfulfilled.
Have you ever flown with Turkmenistan Airlines? What are your thoughts on this broader shift towards dedicated freighters? Let us know in the comments.
Simple Flying reached out to Turkmenistan Airlines with a request for comment. However, at the time of publication, no response was received.