Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed an agreement to convert aircraft for its first airline customer based in the Gulf, announcing a deal with the region’s largest airline, Emirates, to convert four Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft to cargo configuration.
The aircraft will undergo conversion at the new site established in Etihad Engineering’s MRO center in Abu Dhabi, and the first conversion of the Emirates airplane is expected to begin in early 2023. IAI said the agreement carries the potential to provide passenger-to-freighter conversion services to more aircraft.
Dubai-based Emirates is the largest operator of 777-300ERs in the world, and Emirates SkyCargo is a major player in the global air cargo industry, with 10 Boeing 777Fs in the fleet. As one of the world’s largest conversion players, IAI called the agreement with Emirates SkyCargo “a testament to the strong ties between IAI and the UAE,” and fruit of the August 2020 Abraham Accords.
“IAI is proud to partner with the brightest minds in the region to create solutions to the global demand for cargo aircraft,” said IAI president and CEO Boaz Levy. "Emirates’ decision to select IAI for the conversion of its passenger aircraft to cargo configuration is a testament to IAI's professional capabilities and longstanding international recognition in the field.”
Emirates has been keen to expand freighter capacity, said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group. “This underscores our commitment to supporting our customers’ requirements and reflects our confidence in our future growth and status as one of the largest airline cargo carriers in the world.”
The last two years put the spotlight on the importance of supply chain connectivity and the availability of air cargo capacity to global communities and economies.
“Emirates plays a key role in making essential goods available to customers and consumers globally through the capacity available on our widebody fleet, the reach of our global network, and the advanced infrastructure at our Dubai hub,” he concluded.