DHL Express adds SmartLynx Malta’s converted A321Fs to fleet

By Rachelle Harry

DHL Express has entered into a partnership with SmartLynx Malta — an express logistics provider and member of Avia Solutions Group, which also owns aircraft charter broker Chapman Freeborn.

The partnership was driven by significantly increased demand for e-commerce shipments and medical supplies such as PPE, as a result of the pandemic. 

The partnership will see two newly converted Airbus A321-200 freighters from SmartLynx joining DHL’s European air fleet. It also signifies SmartLynx Malta entering into the freighter market.

Smartlynx Malta will add two additional A321Fs this year and up to four aircraft next year, and has a business target of becoming “one of the largest narrowbody cargo freight carriers within the next three years”.

DHL Express said it is using the fuel efficient, “technically advanced” narrowbody fleet type to add capacity and meet increasing demand for express cargo transportation worldwide. In addition, the company said, the aircraft will help it to reduce its CO2 emissions.

“The fuel-efficient Airbus A321-200 achieves superior unit reductions in CO2 emissions compared with similar class freighter models,” said a spokesperson for DHL Express. “By investing in these aircraft, SmartLynx Malta illustrates its commitment towards embracing a future focused on cleaner, more sustainable air freight carriage.”

Geoff Kehr, senior vice president of global air fleet management at DHL Express, commented: “We at DHL pride ourselves as the global industry pioneer when it comes to introducing new generation conversion freighter types to the market.

“Continually modernising our fleet with the most efficient and reliable cargo aircraft produced is vital to our success. Having led the world with the A330-300 passenger-to-freighter development and successful implementation, it is only natural we would follow on by adding the smaller A321 family aircraft to our global freighter fleet.”

Zygimantas Surintas, chief executive of SmartLynx Malta, added: “We are pleased to share the news about the latest addition to our client portfolio. By supporting DHL with two freighter units, our partner is advancing their readiness to respond to a growing air cargo demand. 

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of the DHL team for their belief that we are both willing and capable of providing the highest-class product in keeping with their expectations. This development is a substantial step forward in our strategic plans for the future. DHL is a leading air transport capacity, and having strong partnerships is a decisive factor to growing our business even further and in a cleaner, more sustainable manner.”

Also this week, Mesa Air Group, which began operating freighters for DHL Express last year, signed a letter of intent to lease an additional Boeing 737-400F cargo aircraft. The extra aircraft will be available in May and adds to the two B737-400F aircraft it currently operates for DHL.

Last year, Mexican freighter operator MasAir Cargo started operations for DHL Express utilising one of its Boeing 767 freighters.

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