ASL Airlines Australia adds first 737-800 freighter

Source: ASL Airlines

ASL Airlines Australia – the operator formerly known as Pionair Australia – has added its first Boeing 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) to its Air Operators Certificate (AOC), which it expects to put into commercial operations in the coming months.

Australia’s first 737-800BCF, the aircraft (VH-CYK) is one of parent ASL Aviation’s 40-unit commitment for the converted freighter.

It has a capacity of 23.9 tonnes with 5,000 cu ft available on the maindeck (12 pallets) and a further 1,500 cu ft available in the bulk cargo hold. 

“The first ASLA 737-800 freighter is set to offer cost-efficient new opportunities to air cargo customers in the Australian domestic and international markets, with its capability to move both express parcels and larger cargo speedily with a range up to 3,750 km. ASLA is already in discussion with customers and expects to operate its first commercial revenue flights soon,” the operator stated.

“This is the first 737-800 in the ASLA fleet, and the airline expects to grow the fleet, adding aircraft over time to meet customer requirements.”

ASL Airlines Australia added the 737-800BCF to its fleet following a revision to its AOC by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA).

This followed a 12-month project which saw delivery of VH-CYK to the airline in February 2024, issuance of a Certificate of Airworthiness in March, and a successful AOC variation proving flight under CASA oversight in April this year.

Ireland-based ASL Aviation acquired Pionair in 2023 and rebranded it the same year to align with other ASL units.

The purchase allowed ASL to expand into the Australian and Oceania markets

The airline provides night freight services on the east coast of Australia, serving Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Operations are performed for Qantas Freight on behalf of FedEx and Australia Post.

It has five main bases in Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Cairns – and has a focus on the express and e-retail sectors.

ASL Aviation already has several carriers – four in Europe, plus airlines in Thailand India and South Africa – operating a total of around 160 aircraft.

The company is three years into a five-year fleet renewal programme that includes the agreement with Boeing for 40 B737-800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighters) conversion slots.

According to Cirium fleets data, the aircraft was delivered – in passenger configuration – to now-defunct Indian operator Jet Airways in 2006.

When the airline collapsed in 2019, it briefly operated with compatriot SpiceJet for about a year before being returned to lessor Avolon in 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It was then converted into a freighter in 2022.

Last year, East Midlands-headquartered ASL Airlines United Kingdom (ASLUK) expanded its fleet with the addition of its first 737-800BCF.

ASL expands into Australia with Pionair acquisition

ASL Airlines UK expands fleet and looks to further growth

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