A new cargo carrier could soon be launching freighter operations in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi-based startup Emirates International Air Cargo (EIAC) appears to have taken redelivery of its first freighter-converted 737-400F (28151, ex-Qantas), after a legal dispute between EIAC and Connecticut-based Aero Acquisitions prevented the aircraft from being redelivered for several years.
Unit 28151, which was delivered to Qantas in 1996 and removed from service in 2013, was converted by PEMCO at the Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA) facility in San Jose (SJO) in 2014, COOPESA confirmed to Cargo Facts. The aircraft did not depart SJO, however, until Oct. 9, 2019. A few days later, the aircraft arrived in San Bernardino on Oct. 13, presumably ahead of being ferried to the UAE [FAT 005168].
In an action for breach of contract filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 30, 2017, EIAC claimed that Aero Acquisitions had failed to deliver the aircraft pursuant to a sale and purchase agreement signed between the two parties in December 2013, causing financial loss and business interruption. According to EIAC’s claim, by late 2014, it had paid a total of US$7.49 million to Aero Acquisitions but, in late 2015, Aero sold one of the aircraft’s CFM56 engines to a third party, leaving the freighter-converted 737-400F stranded in San Jose, without engines.
On June 23, 2017, Aero Acquisitions filed a counterclaim, alleging that on May 15, 2017, it received notice that the livery, designed by Jordan-based Global Bounds and placed on the aircraft at the direction of EIAC, infringed upon the trademark of Dubai-based airline Emirates. This breached the conditions of the sale and purchase agreement.
In August 2018, Aero Acquisition’s lawyers sought and were granted permission to withdraw from the case because of non-payment of attorneys’ fees. Aero subsequently did not appoint substitute counsel.
The court gave its judgment on Nov. 5, 2018, ordering that EIAC recover from Aero Acquisitions US$8.89 million, consisting of the US$7.49 million paid under the sale and purchase agreement and US$1.40 million in incurred costs. Aero Acquisitions was also ordered to turn over title of the aircraft to EIAC.
With the aircraft now finally out of storage and the lawsuit over, EIAC will likely push on with its original plans. Cargo Facts believes that the company could also be considering additional conversions.
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