ASL Aviation Holdings has signed a commitment with Cargo Aircraft Management to lease three A321-200(PCF)s, with the first two due for delivery in 2022 and the third one in 2023, the lessor's parent Air Transport Services Group said in its quarterly earnings report.

"We are pleased to count ASL Aviation Holdings, a major source of cargo lift to integrated global networks, among our future lessees of Airbus cargo aircraft. ASL has ordered the first two of our A321 freighters in the second half of this year, a third in 2023," President and Chief Executive of ATSG Rich Corrado said.

The Irish holding will become the launch customer for Cargo Aircraft Management's A321-200(PCF)s, taking N982CM (msn 1972) and N983CM (msn 1887). The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that the former is already in conversion at Tampa Int'l, while the latter remains at Goodyear. The ex-Thomas Cook Airlines UK (MT, Manchester Int'l) aircraft were originally earmarked for Malaysia's Raya Airways (TH, Kuala Lumpur Subang), but Cargo Aircraft Management confirmed to Cargo Facts that it had to reallocate them due to the Malaysian carrier's specific engine requirements. The two aircraft will not only be the lessor's first converted A321s, but also the first Airbus aircraft of any variant.

The identity of the third A321 for ASL Aviation Holdings is not yet known. Cargo Aircraft Management said that it planned to deliver five A321-200(PCF)s in total in 2023. It will also purchase an additional six A321-200s in 2022 to secure feedstock for future conversions.

The commitment also includes two A330s of an unspecified variant due for delivery in 2024. Cargo Aircraft Management does not yet own any A330 freighters but has 29 conversion slots with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) and has customers for the first 20 of these aircraft. Corrado said that deliveries to customers will begin in 2024.

"Customer interest in the remaining 9 is significant. Together with the B767s and A321s, CAM now holds rights to more than 80 passenger freighter conversions for induction through 2026. With 30 lease orders from customers covering all of our planned deliveries through next year, we already hold orders for more than 50 of those 80-plus freighters in our pipeline," Corrado said during the investor call.

ASL Aviation Holdings' carriers do not operate any A321 freighters just yet. The group's new-generation narrowbody freighter fleet comprises eighteen B737-800(BCF)s and four B737-800(BDSF)s operated by ASL Airlines Ireland, ASL Airlines Belgium, ASL Airlines France, and K-Mile Asia with more to come. The Irish unit also operates three A330-200(P2F)s on behalf of DHL Express.

Neither ASL Aviation Holdings nor ATSG responded to ch-aviation's question about the identity of the third A321 and the two A330s.

Meanwhile, another future ATSG A330-300(P2F) customer SmartLynx Airlines (6Y, Riga), which already operates one A321-200(PCF) and one A321-200(P2F) through SmartLynx Airlines Malta, has announced a partnership with APOC Aviation Europe to acquire and convert a further four A321-200s. OH-LZA (msn 941), OH-LZB (msn 961), OH-LZC (msn 1185), and OH-LZD (msn 1241) were sold by Finnair (AY, Helsinki Vantaa) and will join SmartLynx's fleet as freighters in early 2023. By mid-2023, the Latvian group hopes to operate fifteen A321-200 converted freighters.