DHL Express has deployed its first ever A330-300P2F – the first of four A330-300 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversions set to join its network – serving the fast-growing markets of Malaysia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong with a six times weekly flight, boosting current capacity with 33 per cent more freight capacity per flight.
The first A330-300P2F will serve markets with particularly high e-commerce trade volumes, including Malaysia with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 18 per cent from now to 2022 and Vietnam, where the local e-commerce market is growing at 35 per cent per annum.
With a gross payload of 61 tonnes, the A330-300 will provide additional high-volume, lower- density capacity in Asia Pacific, catering specifically to regional e-commerce activity which, in 2017, accounted for 40 per cent of global e-commerce sales, according to DHL. Subsequent A330- 300s slated for deployment later this year will also focus on intra-Asia connections as the region’s middle-class – and its consumption rates – continues to expand.
“E-commerce is expected to generate USD 1.365 trillion in total retail sales Asia-wide this year, a number that will more than double to $3 trillion by 2021” said Ken Lee, CEO, DHL Express Asia Pacific. “The introduction of the passenger-to-freight A330-300 marks a significant step forward in enhancing our service standards to match the evolving needs of our customers, e- commerce merchants and other businesses tapping into intra-Asia trade growth.”
“Rising income levels and Internet access have powered a veritable e-commerce revolution in Asia’s cross-border trade,” added Sean Wall, executive VP, Network Operations and Aviation, DHL Express Asia Pacific. “Yet there’s still immense upside despite the amount of growth so far. The new A330-300s will provide the cost-efficiency and high-volume capacity – carrying more than 20 per cent extra cargo than other mid-range cargo aircraft – needed for businesses to take advantage of these intra-Asian opportunities.”
The A330-300 deployments form the latest stage of DHL Express’ ongoing investments in its air freight infrastructure, with future planned deployments of the A330-300s aiming to increase payload capacity by up to 50 per cent compared to current aircraft.
“As a pioneer in P2F aircraft conversions since 1997, DHL continually looks to bolster the strength of its dedicated air network in Asia Pacific with a combination of new investments and design innovation,” Wall said. “As our maiden A330-300 cargo service arrives in our high-traffic Penang Gateway, we expect many more such services to transform our Asia Pacific network in the near future.”
The aircraft is the first A330 P2F from Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a joint venture between Airbus and Singapore Technologies Aerospace. Following its conversion from passenger to freight use, the A330-300s feature a range of upgrades including reinforcements to its fuselage, floor structure, and door frame shell; newly-installed safety barrier nets; and a powered cargo loading system.