Aircraft leasing company Avolon Holdings has announced a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries to convert 30 Airbus SE wide-body planes for use as freighters.
The A330-300 passenger jets will be converted between 2025 and 2028.
The deal is the first Airbus project for IAI, which converts Boeing jets, the dominant player in the freighter market.
Air freight has been a rare bright spot for global aviation, as online purchases soar and shipping rates rise. That has fed higher demand for dedicated freighters, which has only intensified with recent global supply chain snarls.
Air cargo revenue is expected to reach $150 billion this year, with traffic doubling over the next 20 years, Avolon said.
Carriers are retiring aging passenger jets, especially wide-bodies, and converting them into freighters is one way to extend their use. At the same time, Airbus has had little success selling new A330s built for cargo use.
Avolon owns and manages 54 A330-300 and 200 jets.
Avolon said that with a range of over 3,600 nautical miles at maximum payload of 61 tonnes, the IAI A330-300 freighter is uniquely placed to support the forecasted growth in e-commerce over the next 20 years.
"The IAI A330-300 product will offer a competitive edge to air cargo operators looking to expand or replace their medium wide body freighter fleets," it added.
Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, said that the global air freight market is worth over $150 billion annually today and the sector is transforming, with air cargo traffic expected to double over the next 20 years.
"This agreement signals Avolon's intention to be a leading player in that expansion," he added.