World’s first A321P2F enters service with Qantas

After nearly two years of work, the jet was delivered to the flag carrier for use on behalf of Australia Post

The first Airbus A321P2F converted freighter has been delivered to launch operator Qantas. The jet, VH-ULD (c/n 835) was converted by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a joint venture created by Airbus and ST Engineering.

The new P2F version is being leased to Express Freighters Australia – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qantas Freight – by aircraft asset manager Vallair.

Australia Post
VH-ULD is a 22-year-old former British Midland example. Vallair

Andreas Hermann, VP asset management at Airbus and member of the EFW shareholder committee said: “We are very pleased to see the A321P2F programme entering service. The Airbus A321 is the platform which, by design, will offer the best economics, cargo capacity and performance in the single-aisle freighter segment going forward. For any asset owner, this will provide an excellent opportunity to leverage future growth and replacement waves, underpinning the already great value proposition of the A321 today.”

Airbus says the A321P2F is the only type in its class to offer contanerised loading on both decks. Airbus

The aptly registered aircraft – ULD being a unit load device – is a former British Midland example that was delivered to the Castle Donington-based carrier on June 12, 1998. Since then, it has seen service with Air 2000, bmi British Midland, Turkey’s Onur Air and Iraq-based Zagrosjet.

Airbus says the type is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main (up to 14 full positions) and lower deck (up to 10 locations). With a payload-range capability that can carry 28 tonnes over 2,300nm, the A321P2F is positioned well for express domestic and regional operations.

The narrowbody completed its maiden flight - after conversion - earlier this year. Airbus

Gone are the passenger windows and exits, instead the conversion features a large main cargo door which is hydraulically actuated and electrically locked, a ‘Class-E’ main-deck cargo compartment with full rigid 9g barrier for optimal protection between crew and cargo, and a redefined flight deck that includes supernumerary seats.

Vallair’s narrowbody freight conversion programme is experiencing firm interest from well-established and forward-looking cargo operators worldwide. A lease agreement with SmartLynx Malta for two newly converted A321-200 freighters was recently concluded and last week, the lessor announced a deal with GlobalX, a new Miami-based airline, who have signed a letter of intent to lease ten A321F conversions which are slated for delivery by spring 2023.