Qantas to modify passenger A330s to freighters for online shopping boom

December 07, 2021

The surge in online commerce is prompting Qantas to convert two of its 300-passenger Airbus A330s into freighters for both international and domestic routes that support Australia Post’s parcel and mail business.

Qantas Freight will also receive its third Airbus A321P2F freighter this week, which will also operate for Australia Post. The A321P2F previously operated passenger services for Jetstar.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the conversion of the two wide-body A330 aircraft would significantly increase capacity for both domestic and international freight.

“Our freight business has boomed during the pandemic and while some of that is temporary, COVID has accelerated the permanent expansion of eCommerce and online shopping in this country,” Mr. Joyce said.

“That’s why we’re working with key partners like Australia Post to respond to this structural change and increase the number of parcels that we can carry by air to ensure they arrive at people’s homes as quickly as possible.

“The converted A330 aircraft for Australia Post will be able to carry around 50 tonnes of cargo each flight, more than double the capacity of other freighters operating for the national postal service.”

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The aircraft will be converted by EFW, a joint venture between Airbus and ST Engineering. Conversion work will include removing seats, replacing the existing cabin door with a larger door, and the installation of a cargo handling system.

The first A330 aircraft, which will be utilized by Australia Post, will start its conversion in August 2022 and is expected to start operating in mid-2023 with the second to start operating in late 2023.

Paul Graham, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Australia Post, said the new aircraft will provide an important boost to Australia Post’s existing dedicated air freighter network operated by Qantas.

“Australia Post plays a critical role in connecting Australian businesses and communities to each other and the rest of the world, and this has never been more evident than through the global pandemic where eCommerce has grown by more than 76 percent when compared to just two years ago.

“The two A321P2F aircraft already in the skies, and the third taking off this month, provide our network with critical additional capacity and flexibility.

“We are thrilled to have these new aircraft in our network as we prepare to deliver the biggest Christmas in Australia Post history. Last December we delivered a record 52 million parcels and uplifted over 7.4 million kilos of air freight, and we fully expect to eclipse these volumes this year.”

The Airbus A330-200 aircraft will be able to carry can carry up to 50 tonnes of freight, compared to the Airbus A321’s capacity of 20 tonnes.

After the conversions, the Group will operate up to 25 dedicated freighter aircraft.

In the FY21 year, Qantas Freight recorded a recorded $345 million in revenue for the Group.