India-based startup Afcom will soon become one of four freighter operators in the country to receive its first example of the latest generation of narrowbody conversions in 2022. The carrier expects to launch operations after earning regulatory approval.
Afcom told Cargo Facts that its first aircraft is a twenty-year-old 737-800F that will join the carrier on a long-term dry lease. The aircraft and airline are currently in the final phase of certification to acquire an air operator’s permit (AOP).
Although Afcom did not disclose the exact identity of its first addition or its conversion type, the airline said it expects to add two more 737-800Fs by yearend.
The new carrier, which has previously borrowed passenger belly capacity, had originally planned in 2021 to enter the non-scheduled freighter market with ATR regional turboprops. Afcom told Cargo Facts that it had to change its freighter acquisition plans, citing the volatility and dynamics of the Asia-Pacific air cargo market.
Center for growth
India has been a center for growth in the freighter world during the past year.
In mid-July, the country received the world’s first A320P2F, with U.A.E-based Vaayu group placing the aircraft with Pradhaan Air Express for the startup’s upcoming launch. That aircraft (2737) conducted a proving flight Sept. 20.
In October, IndiGo is expected to launch service with its first A321P2F, which it is leasing from Castlelake. The A321 freighter, also a first for Castlelake, is currently at the ST Engineering facility in Singapore (XSP).
Meanwhile, Quikjet Airlines will soon begin flying at least two 737-800BCFs.
Across the Asia-Pacific region, recent growth has fueled new carriers like Black Stone to become the sixth Indonesian airline to utilize a converted 737 Classic. In nearby Vietnam, Vietjet, IPP Cargo and Vietravel Airlines are all vying to become the country’s first to launch freighter operations.
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