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Boeing converts MD-11 for AV Cargo's African routes

By control on October 2, 2013

Boeing’s aircraft leasing unit, Boeing Capital Corporation, completed transition of two MD-11 Boeing converted freighters on multi-year leases to AV Cargo, which has begun service from its base in Liege, Belgium, on routes primarily to West Africa.

Boeing delivered the first of the cargo trijets to the operator in May. The second aircraft began service recently.

"This second delivery is an important milestone in our strategic business plan that will allow us to further penetrate and optimize our planned scheduled services, providing us with the necessary redundancy to ensure our customers with frequent and reliable services," Neil Glover, AV Cargo managing director and co-founder, said.

AV Cargo will operate its MD-11 freighters into key African cities including Lagos, Nigeria; Bamako, Mali; Entebbe, Uganda; Port Harcourt, Nigeria; Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and Pemba Island.

"The MD-11 is the natural and logical choice to serve our niche market needs in the 65-95 tonne payload range, operating into some of the smaller and performance-challenging airports within Africa that preclude most other aircraft,” Glover said.

Originally MD-11 passenger aircraft, the converted freighters feature an updated flight deck and cargo-handling system, better fuel efficiency and increased operating capabilities.

"MD-11 freighter conversion is a great move in terms of the aircraft's residual value that appeals to aircraft investors," Frank Duckstein, Boeing Capital senior director of asset management, said. "Conversion extends the aircraft's useful life beyond its passenger service and, thanks to the superior economics and operating performance, it allows us to place into service a good cargo asset despite a soft market."

Overall, Boeing has converted more than 100 MD-11s to freighters.

Simon Clark, AV Cargo CEO, said the operator's third MD-11 is expected to enter service in early 2014.

"It will reinforce our schedules services and significantly increase our ad-hoc charter capacity and complete phase 1 of our business plan," Clarke said.