Boeing and the engineering unit of plane lessor Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) have agreed to set up a new freighter conversion line in Jordan, bringing the service closer to customers in the Middle East, North Africa and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Amman-based Joramco – DAE's commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) subsidiary – will convert Boeing 737-800 passenger planes into freighters, serving domestic and foreign airlines, DAE said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The new 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) capability we’re bringing to our MRO is another major milestone for Joramco," said Fraser Currie, chief executive of Joramco.
"Our geographic location in Amman, our deep MRO experience and the opportunity to work together with DAE on their customers’ requirements makes this a very exciting opportunity for Joramco.”
Since acquiring Joramco in 2016, the unit's revenue has more than doubled, according to Firoz Tarapore, chief executive of DAE.
"We continue to expand our presence at our Amman, Jordan-based facility, which is expected to reach 22 maintenance lines by the end of 2024," Mr Tarapore said.
"We look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship with Boeing as well as developing new product offerings for Joramco’s global customer base.”
The US plane-maker expects "robust demand" for dedicated cargo freighters to continue, despite the cyclical nature of this sector, due to growing e-commerce and evolving supply chain networks, Boeing said in its latest Commercial Market Outlook in June.
Air cargo will continue to outpace global trade growth, with airlines requiring 2,800 dedicated freighters. This includes more than 900 new wide-bodies as well as converted narrow-body and wide-body models.
Deliveries will include 1,810 regional jets and 925 freighters over the next 20 years.
“We continue to look for opportunities to bring freighter conversion capacity closer to our customers,” said Mike Doellefeld, commercial programmes vice president of Boeing's engineering services, converted freighters and sub-components.
“Connecting with Joramco reflects the potential of a growing region combined with an MRO partner capable of producing the BCF with the quality our customers expect.”
Joramco's MRO plant serves a range of customers in the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, Africa and the CIS, offering services on several aircraft models including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer.
Located in the free zone area in Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, it features five hangars that can accommodate up to 17 planes. Joramco is certified by international regulatory authorities including the European Aviation Safety Agency, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the Jordanian Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission, according to its website.
Elsewhere in the region, Emirates, the world's biggest international airline, in May said it expected 10 Boeing 777-300ER planes from its passenger-to-freighter conversion programme over the next five years.
Etihad Airways in 2021 said its engineering arm had signed a partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries to provide passenger-to-freighter conversions on Boeing 777-300ER wide-bodies.
The belly-hold of passenger jets returning to service due to rebounding travel appetite and airlines' strong demand to convert older passenger aircraft to freighters has meant additional capacity entering the global air freight market.
Global air cargo demand in June contracted at its slowest rate in 16 months since February 2022, according to Iata, as volumes continue to return to those seen before the peaks recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 0.5 per cent increase in air cargo volumes in June compared to the same month a year ago. This was up from the 2.9 per cent year-over-year decline registered in May. Capacity rose 11.1 per cent for the month.