Cargo’s increasing allure in the Maghreb

Northern Africa’s cargo scene is bustling with two companies planning to add cargo capacity; first Tunisian start-up Express Air Cargo is nearing send-off of its maiden freighter flight, and second, Libya-based passenger-carrier Afriqiyah Airways is purportedly mulling the launch of its own freighter flights. Back in June, Cargo Facts reported here that Express Air Cargo had taken delivery of its first 737-300QC (23836) and had plans to take delivery of a second 737-300 freighter. This week Vilnius-based FL Technics announced that both aircraft have already arrived at its MRO in Lithuania where they are currently undergoing maintenance and inspection.

Tunisia-based Express Air Cargo's first freighter, a 737-300F.

Tunisia-based Express Air Cargo’s first freighter, a 737-300F.

Express Air Cargo CEO, Anis Riahi, confirmed to Cargo Facts that the source of the second 737-300F is an ex-Texel Air (24710) unit.

As for routes and the scheduled launch date, Riahi says that he expects daily flights to Paris (CDG) and Cologne to commence in September. By the end of the year, Express Air plans to add additional connections to Bergamo and Seville, with more regional flights to be added to destinations in Central and West Africa to be added in early 2017.

Just South of Tunisia lays Libya, where Afriqiyah Airways expressed its intent to begin operating A300-600Fs to support its cargo operations. Last year Afriqiyah began testing the waters for freight-demand when it launched a cargo unit and began chartering monthly A300F flights to Europe from Turkey-based MNG Airlines. Details of the routes and source of the aircraft have not been announced, but a continuation of the partnership between Afriqiyah and MNG would not be unlikely. The carrier’s passenger fleet currently numbers five active narrow-body aircraft, two A319-100s and three A320-200s (with six additional aircraft in storage or undergoing maintenance).

These additional freighters could add much needed capacity in a region where cargo flights are infrequent. Even the largest cargo carrier on the African continent, Ethiopian Airlines does not have a large presence in North Africa. Express Air Cargo and Afriqiyah will instead be competing with neighboring Egyptair, and other foreign carriers from Europe and the Middle East which have extensive international passenger operations in North Africa, and the ability to carry belly freight.

 

Those interested in learning more about emerging and regional dedicated cargo airlines should join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium (10 – 12 October in Miami) where a session will be devoted to the subject. To register, or for more information, go to CargoFactsSymposium.com.

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