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A330-200F Values Achieve Measure of Stability

April 16, 2018

The oprderbook for the A330-200F has failed to advance even with the improvement in the freighter market and this has previously led to a fall in values. However, despite the limited appetite for the aircraft values are now experiencing a modest level of stability.

The A330-200F was first seriously considered in 2001. However, the events of that year forced the postponement of the project. The A330/A340 were originally designed with the future freighter conversion in mind even going as far as designing some of the structure that would allow the incorporation of a main deck cargo door at a later date. However, at the time, with values and lease rentals of used A330/A340s unlikely to fall sufficiently to allow for economic freighter conversion for another five years or more, the A330-200F program was restarted.

The impetus for the development of the A330-200F also came from two other sources. Airbus had realized that demand for the production A300-600RF was coming to close due to lack of family commonality and increasing technical inefficiency compared to other equipment. Secondly, the development of the B787 and the launch of the A350 increased the likelihood that orders for the passenger A330-200 would start to falter in the coming years, following the example of the B767-300ER. As a means of stimulating orders to ensure that at least one twin engined widebody line would remain in production until the arrival of the A350, the A330-200F was seen as fulfilling a much needed role. The impetus for the A330-200F was underlined when Boeing failed to include a freighter as part of its B787 development. However, the launch of the B777-200LRF and ending of B767-300ERF production also made it necessary for Airbus to respond. With the development costs of the A330-200F likely to be small and the amortized cost of the passenger A330-200 recovered through a successful program, the selling price of the A330-200F could also be made competitive at a time when other Airbus widebody programs were experiencing difficulties. With an expanding A330-200 operator base, it was also anticipated that some operators of passenger units would also acquire the freighter.

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The A330-200F gained momentum during the course of 2006 and in November, the program was officially launched but without the benefit of formal orders. The relative success of the production and post-production A300 freighters, as well as the A310 conversion program, provided Airbus with the basis for assuming that the A330-200F would be well received. There needs to be a clear distinction between the economics of converted and new freighter aircraft. A new widebody freighter can cost at least three times as much as a converted aircraft and demand is therefore likely to originate from a more limited number of operators with quasi scheduled services rather than ad hoc cargo charter or mail operators such as those using the A300F4-200. The A330-200F is not offered with CF6 engines.

The impetus for the development of the A330-200F also came from two other sources. Airbus had realized that demand for the production A300-600RF was coming to close due to lack of family commonality and increasing technical inefficiency compared to other equipment. Secondly, the development of the B787 and the launch of the A350 increased the likelihood that orders for the passenger A330-200 would start to falter in the coming years, following the example of the B767-300ER. As a means of stimulating orders to ensure that at least one twin engined widebody line would remain in production until the arrival of the A350, the A330-200F was seen as fulfilling a much needed role. The impetus for the A330-200F was underlined when Boeing failed to include a freighter as part of its B787 development. However, the launch of the B777-200LRF and ending of B767-300ERF production also made it necessary for Airbus to respond. With the development costs of the A330-200F likely to be small and the amortized cost of the passenger A330-200 recovered through a successful program, the selling price of the A330-200F could also be made competitive at a time when other Airbus widebody programs were experiencing difficulties. With an expanding A330-200 operator base, it was also anticipated that some operators of passenger units would also acquire the freighter.

The A330-200F gained momentum during the course of 2006 and in November, the program was officially launched but without the benefit of formal orders. The relative success of the production and post-production A300 freighters, as well as the A310 conversion program, provided Airbus with the basis for assuming that the A330-200F would be well received. The need for widebody capacity, increasing in size and range, is becoming more evident. However, there needs to be a clear distinction between the economics of converted and new freighter aircraft. A new widebody freighter can cost at least four times as much as an older converted aircraft and demand is therefore likely to originate from a more limited number of operators with quasi scheduled services rather than ad hoc cargo charter or mail operators such as those using the A300F4-200. The success with the earlier versions of the Airbus widebody freighters has provided the company with considerable expertise in developing freighters.

The A330-200F naturally seeks to build upon the existing specification of the A330-200. The -200F has virtually the same fuselage, engines, spare parts, 180 ETOPs capability (though this is not an issue for freighters) and Stage 4 noise certification. The principal changes relate to the incorporation of a main deck cargo door, the same as the one used on the A300-600F. The door is 101 inches high and 141 inches wide. This allows the carriage of standard 96 inch pallets which are more commonly used for airfreight than containers which are more suited to the needs of the small package operators. The payload of the A330-200F has sought to reflect the needs to two sets of operators; those that require range and those that need payload. Consequently, the payload of the -200F is either 64 tonnes or 69 tonnes. The range at 64 tonnes is 4,000nm versus 3,200nm for the version able to carry 69 tonnes. This is the maximum payload and range. As the need for range increases, the payload able to be carried declines. Orders for the A330-200F have contracted in recent years such as they are now a shadow of their former levels. There are only 42 on order of which only four remain to be delivered. The freighter was originally ordered by lessors but these were largely switched to the passenger version as the airfreight market dried up.

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