Air Algerie Cargo commenced operations as a standalone unit of Air Algerie on 15 November, with a flight between Algiers (ALG), and Lyon Saint-Exupéry (LYS) in France. Although the carrier has some interesting fleet options, Air Algerie is purportedly using its Lockheed Hercules.
In May of this year Air Algerie outlined plans to launch a separate standalone cargo unit when it took delivery of its first 737-700C (61340). It has since taken delivery of a second -700C (61341). Although the quick-change-configured (QC) aircraft can be used in either passenger or freighter operations, it appears that both aircraft have been flying primarily in passenger configuration. This could soon change as local media cite plans to utilize the -700Cs for scheduled freighter service on a weekly flight between Algiers and Dakar (DKR). Additional destinations within Africa are also being planned.
As if the 737-700C was not a unique enough fleet choice, (only three other units were produced for non-military customers) Air Algerie could also become one of the world’s first operators of the 737-800BCF. During this year’s Farnborough Airshow, Boeing revealed Air Algerie’s order for two 800BCFs, indicating Air Algerie’s intent to convert two units into full-freighter configuration. With twenty-two 737-800s in its fleet, Algeria’s national carrier already has feedstock secured.
This year Cargo Facts has been monitoring a flurry of start-up activity in the Maghreb as carriers based in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya have all outlined plans to expand or launch freighter operations. Tunisian start-up Express Air Cargo secured its AOC last month, and is expected to commence flights to Western Europe soon, with its pair of 737-300Fs. Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways is also mulling the expansion of its cargo unit which is currently limited to a chartered A300F charted from Turkey-based MGN Airlines.
For the first ten months of 2016, freight-tonne-kilometers flown by Africa-based carriers are still flat with 2015, according to IATA’s most recent market analysis. As additional capacity is added by these new startups, the expectation is that this should begin to change. Could 2017 be the year Africa’s airfreight market takes off?