UK Leasing

The Volga-Dnepr subsidiary expands its fleet of Boeing 737-800BCF

Atran Cargo Airlines is expected to double its fleet of Boeing 737-800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) by the end of the month. The Russian carrier, which is a subsidiary of the Volga-Dnepr group, previously had two of the old 737-800s in its fleet. However, a third has recently arrived on lease from GECAS, and a fourth is due later this month.

The 737-800BCF represents more than half of Atran’s fleet. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Two more 737-700BCF

According to FlightGlobal, Atran will strengthen its freight transport fleet by leasing a second pair of Boeing 737-800BCF from GECAS. Data ch-aviation shows that the airline’s first two 737-800BCF from the Irish-US lessor arrived in December 2018 (VQ-BFS) and September 2019 (VQ-BFT). One of the second pair has already arrived.

FlightGlobal adds that the second new 737-800BCF (from the airline, rather than a brand new one) will join Atran later this month. With the entry into service of the 737-800 series more than two decades ago, such conversions are likely to become more common as their passenger lifespans expire. West Atlantic UK received the first of these in April 2018.

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West Atlantic Boeing 737
West Atlantic received the first Boeing 737-800BCF, with commemorative rear marking, in April 2018. Photo: James via Flickr

The market for these devices, which can carry a payload of 23.5 tonnes, is solid, with GECAS alone having ordered 60. Of these, 34 were delivered to their new operators. Vitaly Andreev, Managing Director of Atran, welcomed the new arrivals, comment:

“At Atran, we appreciate the support of the GECAS Cargo team as we continue to develop our fleet and network. The Boeing 737-800BCF is the backbone of our fleet, and additional aircraft will allow us to provide more solutions and ensure high quality service to our customers.

Atran in brief

Despite being a relatively small airline, Atran, Moscow-based Vnukovo, has a long history dating back to World War II. Indeed, it was created during the conflict in 1942, under the name of Moscow Aviation Enterprise. At that time, it was an agency of the Aeroflot flag carrier, to which it would deliver spare parts for airplanes during its early years.

Atran Antonov An-12
During Atran’s long history, it also operated Soviet aircraft, including the mighty Antonov An-12. Photo: Aleksandr Markin via Wikimedia Commons

Atran started flying heavy freighters in 1962 and amassed 29 planes in 1980. By that time he was flying these planes all over the Soviet Union under the name Transport Aviation. The airline became independent in 1990, becoming the first Soviet carrier to do so.

This change in structure resulted in a name change corresponding to Aviatrans, which he held until 1997 before assuming his current identity. The airline, majority (73%) owned by its employees, then became a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr in 2011.

A fully 737 fleet

Atran operates a relatively small fleet, which will total seven cargo aircraft, one of the last 737-800BCF will arrive. These cargo ships all belong to the popular Boeing 737 family, although the examples Atran operates are divided into two variations. The 737-800BCF will become the dominant variant, with the new pair bringing its total to four planes.

Atran Boeing 737
Atran’s oldest aircraft today are its Boeing 737-400F aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

These converted devices have an average age of 18.4 years. Meanwhile, Atran’s three remaining planes are even older, averaging 23.5 years. These jets are examples of the 737-400F variant, and also saw passenger service before being converted to carry cargo. Atran also previously operated a fourth 737-400F from December 2018 to December 2019. It now flies for CargoLogic Germany as D-ACLW.

What do you think of Atran’s latest fleet expansion? Have you ever encountered one of the carrier’s planes on your travels? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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