Bloomberg News

Airbus in Talks With ST Aero on Converting A330s to Cargo Planes

November 17, 2011

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS said it aims to negotiate a deal that would see A330 widebody passenger jets converted into freighters by Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd.

“We’re talking to them about it,” Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said at the Dubai Air Show after Qatar Airways Ltd. disclosed yesterday that the planemaker might license ST Aero to undertake conversion work on its A330 fleet.

While Airbus makes dedicated A330 cargo planes, converting passenger models can be less costly for airlines. A freighter- refit facility in Dresden, Germany, owned by the planemaker’s parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. works only on the A300 and A310 models, leaving a gap in the market.

Qatar Air Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said May 3 that the Middle East’s second-biggest carrier planned to convert 15 A330s for cargo use by 2016, with the work to be done in Germany. The CEO said yesterday he might opt to use converted Boeing Co. 767s instead if Airbus couldn’t undertake the task.

ST Aero, a unit of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., couldn’t be reached for comment after office hours today. A deal would probably be wider-ranging than the Qatar project alone.

Qatar Air also ordered two Boeing 777 freighters yesterday as it expands its cargo capabilities as part of a strategy that in June saw it take a 35 percent stake in Cargolux International SA of Luxembourg, Europe’s biggest freight-only carrier.

--With assistance from Lars Klemming in Singapore. Editor: Chris Jasper.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrea Rothman in Paris at aerothman@bloomberg.net; Tamara Walid in Abu Dhabi at twalid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net


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