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ASL Airlines adds Australia’s first 737 Boeing Converted Freighter

written by Jake Nelson | May 21, 2024

VH-CYK, operated by ASL Airlines Australia, is the first 737 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) certified to operate in the country. (Image: ASL Airlines Australia)

Charter and freight carrier ASL Airlines Australia (ASLA) has added Australia’s first certified 737 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) to its fleet.

ASLA, formerly Pionair, is based at Bankstown Airport and offers passenger and cargo charter and wet-leasing services across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The new freighter, VH-CYK, is its first B737-800BCF, with the airline primarily operating the BAe146.

“The next-generation B737-800BCF is one of the industry’s most efficient and reliable platforms and carries up to 23.9 tonnes (52,900 pounds) of revenue payload, with 5,000 cubic feet available on the main deck (12 pallets) and a further 1,500 cubic feet available in the bulk cargo hold,” the carrier said in a press release.

“The first ASLA B737-800 freighter is set to offer cost efficient new opportunities to air cargo customers in the Australian domestic and international markets, with its capability to move both express parcels and larger cargo speedily with a range up to 3,750 kilometres or 2,025 nautical miles.

“Given the unique capabilities of the aircraft, ASLA is already in discussion with customers and expects to operate its first commercial revenue flights soon. This is the first B737-800 in the ASLA fleet, and the airline expects to grow the fleet, adding aircraft over time to meet customer requirements.”


ASLA obtained a revision to its AOC allowing it to fly the 737-800BCF, with VH-CYK delivered in February, issued an airworthiness certificate in March, and completed a proving flight for the AOC variation in April.

“This first aircraft was part of ASL Aviation Holdings’ B737-800 Boeing conversion programme which includes slots for 40 aircraft to be converted and placed into operation in ASL’s airlines in Ireland, France, Belgium, Thailand, India and now Australia,” the airline said.

Ireland-based ASL Aviation Holdings, which bought Pionair in April 2023 and rebranded it late last year, has a total fleet of 160 passenger and cargo aircraft across eight airlines, serving more than 150 airports worldwide.

“ASL Aviation Holdings is the largest operator of B737 freighters globally and specialises in express overnight freight on behalf of global customers including FedEx, UPS, DHL and Amazon,” the company said.

“The B737-800BCF carries a greater payload faster, over longer distances than its predecessor, the B737-400 Classic. It is also more fuel efficient and emits 15 per cent less carbon. This supports ASL’s commitment to sustainability and to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”

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