Singapore-based Asia Cargo Network (ACN) will expand its footprint into the Middle East and Africa as part of a new partnership agreement with Bahrain-based MENA Aerospace and assign at least five freighters to MENA’s cargo airline, the two companies announced at the Bahrain International Airshow on Wednesday.
ACN Group CEO Marco Isaak told Cargo Facts that the company spent the past year analyzing investment opportunities in the Middle East and has engaged in discussions with MENA Aerospace Founder and Managing Director Mohammed Juman for around five months, building the framework of the partnership before finalizing the agreement.
Isaak added that because ACN has acquired a 49% stake in MAE Aircraft Management, the airline operations subsidiary of MENA Aerospace, and is a controlling shareholder, ACN will manage the MENA Cargo Airlines air operator certificate (AOC) that was approved in October 2021.
To that end, ACN intends to add five more aircraft — two 767-300Fs and three 737-800Fs — to the single 1996-vintage 737-300F (27710) currently on the MENA Cargo AOC, bringing the fleet to six freighters, Isaak told Cargo Facts, adding that the first 767-300F is currently undergoing conversion with Boeing in Singapore and that the first 737-800 will also be converted by Boeing. He declined to identify the lessors behind the aircraft.
These two aircraft are due to arrive “within the next two months” and will begin service immediately, according to a statement.
MENA does not appear to have flown unit 27710 since May and has even hinted at adding 737-800Fs to its AOC.
Cargo Facts believes that there are currently six 767-300ERs in conversion with Boeing at the ST Engineering facilities in Singapore: unit 26971 for Titan Aircraft Investments, unit 30565 for Saltchuk Aviation, units 28206 and 33421 for SF Airlines, unit 40590 for LATAM and unit 25584 for Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM).
ACN anticipates the MENA fleet to be fully operational with all six aircraft by Q3 2023, with more likely to join in the future, Isaak said. Under the MENA livery, ACN will provide service throughout the Middle East and to Africa, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, he added.