A startup based in Malta aims to enter the freighter market in the first quarter of 2021 with its own air operator’s certificate (AOC) and possibly two 737-400Fs.
SVL Airlines told Cargo Facts it had initially looked at 737-300QCs for the extra flexibility of a reconfigurable layout, but as the pandemic worsened over the course of the past few months, the company decided to concentrate its efforts on the cargo business, given the growth in e-commerce shipments and the weak passenger market.
A few candidate aircraft have already been identified, according to the carrier, which declined to disclose the specific frames. However, we note the following possibilities:
- Unit 28702 (ex-Blue Air), inducted by Airwork in February and recently completed by Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI);
- Unit 27914 (ex-LOT), inducted by Vx Capital in March and recently completed by AEI;
- Units 26605 and 27087, the two PEMCO-converted aircraft previously operated by Brazil-based Connect Cargo but repossessed by Luxembourg-based Vallair earlier this year and recently ferried back to Montpellier (MPL);
- Unit 24751 (ex-Flair Airlines), the first 737-400SF owned by KF Aerospace and completed in June;
- Unit 28888 (ex-Flair Airlines), recently acquired by Automatic and sent to San Jose (SJO) late August for conversion; and
- Unit 25101 (ex-Alaska Airlines), a 737-400C inducted by Avmax to be converted by PEMCO in Tampa (TPA) late August.
SVL said it could add two more aircraft in the first year of operations and may even consider larger aircraft at a later stage. The company had also evaluated buying passenger frames and putting them through conversion, but that would have resulted in a much longer lead time.
The startup, which is comprised of a small team of pilots and other aviation professionals, is currently in talks with private and corporate investors, as well as mail services, package operators and charter brokers.
Meanwhile, TheWorldAvia Airlines, another Malta-based startup carrier, appears to be at a similar stage in its development. The company told Cargo Facts it is looking for investors and plans to have a fleet that encompasses three different size segments.
While Malta is currently not home to any pure freighter carriers, the charter and ACMI operator Maleth-Aero has a 737-300QC and a 737-300F, along with several reconfigured A330-200s and A340-600s that have had seats removed. Fellow charter and ACMI carrier Hi Fly has also removed seats from an A380, three A340-300s and an A330-200, and in late August began operating a reconfigured A340-300 (236) on an ACMI basis for SpiceJet.
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