Air Transport Services Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATSG), announced today that its Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM) leasing business has committed to purchase its first two Airbus A321-200 passenger aircraft, one this year and a second in the first quarter of 2022.

Freighter conversion of the first aircraft will begin in the fourth quarter of 2021 with its redelivery to a CAM dry lease customer projected to occur in the second quarter of 2022. The second aircraft will begin freighter conversion in the second quarter of 2022 with redelivery projected during the fourth quarter of 2022.

Both aircraft will undergo passenger-to-freighter conversion at ATSG’s PEMCO Conversions facilities in Tampa, Fla. Earlier this month, PEMCO Conversions inducted its first A321-200 for conversion. The engineering design for passenger-to-freighter conversion was approved by the FAA in April and is owned by 321 Precision Conversions, a joint venture of ATSG and Precision Aircraft Solutions.

Mike Berger, chief commercial officer of ATSG, said, “We have accelerated our plans to invest in and offer this midsize, mid-range freighter type because our express-network customers have expressed strong interest in adding it to their fleets. Since the development of our passenger-to-freighter (PCF) conversion design for the A321-200 commenced in 2017, it was with the intention to extend our leased-freighter options into this airframe type in the future. It is very well suited for air-express service and e-commerce fulfillment over shorter routes and with smaller payloads as a complement to our existing fleet of more than eighty-five larger Boeing 767 converted freighters, and with better performance than Boeing 757 freighters or any Boeing 737 freighter variants. The time is right to launch this milestone initiative for ATSG and its aircraft leasing customers.”

The A321-200PCF conversion design developed by 321 Precision Conversions has the highest available standard payload for converted A321-200 freighters and unmatched versatility. It offers the flexible TELAIR main-deck cargo loading system and a lower deck compatible with bulk, sliding carpet, or containerized cargo. It has an operating empty weight nearly 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) lighter than its closest rival, and has been optimized for maximum payloads, profitability, fuel efficiency, and room for supernumeraries.

“The A321-200PCF freighter conversion program will provide ATSG, both directly and via its joint venture, incremental revenue from production of the conversion kits, engineering, and conversion management,” said Rich Corrado, president and chief executive officer of ATSG. “CAM’s new investment continues to expand the ATSG leasing portfolio. We will continue to invest in this airframe to grow our narrowbody leasing opportunity globally to support integrators, e-commerce and express delivery customers.”