SmartLynx Airlines has announced the expansion of its cargo fleet with the addition of two more A321Fs. The plans would see the airline become the largest operator of A321F cargo freighters.

The move will see the European ACMI charter and cargo operator’s active A321F fleet increase to eight aircraft of the type by the close of 2022. The airline, which is a family member of Avia Solutions Group, is also making plans to double its fleet number.

Currently, the company is supporting DHL’s European network with its first A321F and a second aircraft is scheduled to provide additional support soon.

Leased to SmartLynx from entities managed by Cross Ocean Partners, both A321Fs, MSNs 1204 (9H-CGC) & 775 (9H-CGD), will be registered in Malta. The US-based Precision Conversions will be managing the passenger to freighter conversions, with the aircraft expected to enter service by the first quarter of 2022.

According to SmartLynx’s CEO Zygimantas Surintas, “The addition of two new A321Fs to the SmartLynx fleet is part of a broad expansion strategy designed to consolidate the company’s position at the forefront of cargo carriers and working in support of the demand for increased air cargo capacity.”

SmartLynx has also added five A330 aircraft this year. It is initially using those aircraft for freight, but plans to utilise them for passenger services when demand allows. 

Surintas added that the A321F is “the most fuel-efficient narrow-body cargo aircraft available, and we have made a conscious decision to follow the market’s demands for a more sustainable air transportation”.

Compared to similar class freighter models, the A321F is regarded as a better option for the environment, and has gone some way towards reducing DHL’s Co2 emissions. The narrow-body fleet type is also considered to be more technologically advanced than its rivals, offering additional capacity through its lower deck automated cargo loading system, which meets the increasing demands for global express cargo transportation. Additionally, the A321F has the lightest airframe of its type, with an empty weight of over 3,000 lbs, and has been designed for optimised freight operations and maximum revenue load as well as increased profitability and fuel efficiency.

Brandt Wilson, partner and head of Cross Ocean Partners’ aviation investment strategies added: “We have been extremely excited to support SmartLynx as they continue to build their market-leading position in the A321F aircraft type.”