AirAsia Group has announced it would significantly expand its presence on the cargo market with the planned addition of its first dedicated freighter, a B737-800(F), in the third quarter of 2021.

The Boeing dedicated freighter will be based out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi from where it will operate on behalf of Air Asia's logistics arm, Teleport, to regional destinations in South-East Asia, India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong Int'l. The group did not disclose the identity or the exact variant of the aircraft. It also did not specify the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) on which the aircraft would be placed. ch-aviation has reached out to the group for comment.

"It was evident at the end of last year that the demand for cargo capacity was not going to be served with passenger belly capacity alone in the long run. So, we evaluated the option to utilise dedicated freighters to transport cargo. This is also part of our strategy to build the capacity and connectivity to offer 24 hours door-to-door delivery across all of Southeast Asia," Teleport's Chief Operating Officer Adrian Loretz said.

Teleport's spokesperson Jessica Tan told ch-aviation that the aircraft will be operated by a third-party cargo airline on behalf of the logistics arm of AirAsia Group and not by any of AirAsia-branded airlines. She did not, however, disclose the identity of the operator just yet.

The group will also remove seats from two A320-200s to use them as makeshift freighters on behalf of Teleport. One of the pair of Airbus narrowbodies will be based out of Bangkok Don Mueang and the other out of Kuala Lumpur Int'l.

The first dedicated freighter and the two makeshift converted aircraft will complement the existing fleet of non-converted passenger aircraft used by AirAsia Group for Teleport's operations. The holding said that last month, it had operated two A320-200s and six A330-300s for cargo-only flights on behalf of its in-house logistics arm.

Editorial Comment: Article updates with the details concerning the operator of the aircraft - 15.06.2021 - 06:50 UTC