AirAsia Group has chartered in its first dedicated freighter, a B737-800(BCF) operated by Thailand's K-Mile Asia (8K, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi), for its Teleport cargo unit but is interested in adding in-house freighters if Airbus decides to build a freighter variant of the A321-200neo.

HS-KME (msn 29930) was delivered to K-Mile Asia on October 1, 2021, following conversion at Jinan airport. The 20.8-year-old ex-Ryanair, Garuda Indonesia, and Aeroméxico aircraft has been repainted into Teleport's livery. It will fly under an exclusive charter contract with Teleport but has yet to begin revenue operations. The Thai cargo specialist, which is 45%-owned by ASL Airlines Switzerland, also operates two B737-400(SF)s, one B737-400(F), and another B737-800(BCF).

"The addition of the freighter into our fleet will accelerate the company's goal to shift from a pure air freight logistics provider to a complete multi-modal operator. We've always been on a fast track growth route to continuously propel Teleport's air cargo business forward by spotlighting our commitment towards moving anything across Southeast Asia," Teleport Chief Executive Pete Chareonwongsak said.

The freighter will be based out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and operate to destinations such as Mumbai Int'l, Chennai, Delhi Int'l, Hong Kong Int'l, Nagoya Chubu, and Singapore Changi. Its capacity will complement Air Asia's existing passenger jet bellyhold cargo capacity

Chief Operating Officer Adrian Loretz added that Teleport would look to expand its B737-800(BCF) fleet to six units by 2023.

"It's the first one of many to come. The plan is to absolutely expand that fleet. We are going through the assessment now as to how many. Initially, we were planning with six, but as we analyse the market more, we understand that there is a large demand going forward. It is a long-term commitment, so it is not what we sometimes see to benefit from short-term peaks," Lorentz said.

During the unveiling of the B737-800(BCF), Pete Chareonwongsak told media that the Malaysian holding would also be interested in adding new A321neo dedicated freighters most likely through the conversion of some of its existing orders for the passenger variant. The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that AirAsia has firm orders for 362 A321-200NXs.

"For a lot of the markets that we need to reach both in range but also in capacity, it [the A321neo freighter] is a great product. Would we be the launch customer? I don't know," he said.

Airbus no longer builds any new dedicated freighters after all remaining A330-200F orders were cancelled. A320-200(CCF), A320-200(P2F), A321-200(P2F), and A321-200(PCF) conversions exist or are under certification, but no supplier has attempted to convert any A320neo Family variants as yet.

Chareonwongsak also said that Teleport would seek to raise USD50-100 million by the end of 2021 and planned to list as a separate company within three years. Earlier this year, AirAsia Group said Teleport could be listed as early as the second half of 2022. Chareonwongsak underlined that the logistics firm intends to raise sufficient capital this year to sustain its growth until it can list.