A new cargo airline will soon be taking off from Enfidha’s Hammamet International Airport located 100km south of Tunisia’s capital city, Tunis. Express Air Cargo’s CEO, Anis Riahi confirmed to Cargo Facts his airline is preparing to commence operations in August, with an initial fleet consisting of two freighter-converted 737 classics.
Although the source of these two aircraft has not yet been confirmed, we have a couple of good guesses. Earlier this week ch-Aviation reported sightings of a former Yangtze River Express 737-300QC (23836) donning Express Air Cargo livery. However, given the number of Chinese startups with similar sounding operating names, we’ll take this sighting for face-value only after the aircraft’s AOC is transferred to Tunisian registry. Other possible candidates include two 737-300 freighters that were recently ferried to Johannesburg, one an ex Donghai (24278) and the other formerly operated by Airwork for Toll (23862).
Express Air Cargo plans initially to connect North African markets with European destinations in Cologne, Marseille and Paris. Looking ahead Riahi said the airline expects to add three turboprop freighters and a 737-400F to its fleet during the first half of 2017, to expand inter-regional operations in west and central Africa. Regarding the turboprops, originally Express Air Cargo planned to add Cessnas, but according to Riahi, the airline will likely opt for ATR 72s or ATP freighters instead because of the additional capacity these platforms offer.
In the past it was reported that UPS Airlines had partnered with Express Air Cargo’s affiliate, Express Logistics to launch the airline, and would assist with route planning, aircraft acquisition and maintenance. True this would make sense given the start-up’s planned service to UPS’ Cologne hub, but at present Riahi was able to confirm only that UPS is likely to be a major customer for the airline’s “premium specialized and critical freight services.”