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APR 26
Vol. 39, No. 4D
ACE Belgium Freighters secures AOC

All-cargo startup ACE Belgium Freighters, the Liege-based affiliate of CAL Cargo Airlines, received its air operator’s certificate (AOC) on 18 April and will soon commence commercial cargo operations from its base at Liège Airport (LGG), with scheduled flights to Tel Aviv (TLV). 

Eshel Heffetz, ACE’s CEO, told Cargo Facts the carrier is seeking approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for operations in the U.S., and that following approval, ACE will operate scheduled service to JFK four to five times per week and to ATL once per week. In the meantime, ACE will operate charter flights and some intra-Europe flights. 

Currently, ACE Belgium has just one 747-400BCF, which was transferred from the fleet of ACE affiliate CAL Cargo. ACE plans to add a second 747F during the second half of this year – possibly 35169, which the company purchased in an online auction last year. Last June, ACE’s parent ferried the ex-Jade Cargo 747-400ERF from Shenzhen Bao’an Airport (SZX) to Tel Aviv, where the aircraft underwent maintenance at IAI’s MRO facility. The aircraft is now operated by CAL Cargo.

Regarding commercial sales and marketing for the new venture, Heffetz implied that resources would be shared between CAL and ACE. “Our capacity will be managed via the Challenge Air Cargo commercial arm, which has already opened offices in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, with a German office planned for the near future,” Heffetz added.

Startup carrier Connect Cargo preparing for launch

Brazil-based all-cargo startup Connect Cargo is in the final phases of its Part 121 certification with Brazilian regulator ANAC and is preparing to launch with a pair of 737-400Fs, following receipt of an AOC. Connect has already ferried two 737-400Fs converted to freighter configuration by PEMCO at the STAECO facility in Jinan to Sao Jose dos Campos Airport (SJK) in Brazil. Both aircraft (27087, ex-Malaysia Airlines and 26605, ex-Japan Transocean Air) are on lease from Vallair, already have a Brazilian registration and comply with ANAC requirements [FATs 004846-4847]. 

Connect Cargo’s management told Cargo Facts that its board has already approved the addition of a 767-200BDSF, which is expected to join the fleet in the fourth quarter. Due to the bulkiness of air cargo shipments coming out of Manaus, Connect says it can justify adding the medium widebody freighter because the shipments are for large completely-built units (CBUs), where chargeable weight is always a factor.

For more on Connect Cargo’s operations, view our full coverage here.
YTO, HNA partner to share capacity, develop specialty services
This month, the parent company of YTO Express signed a cooperation agreement with HNA Modern Logistics that will, foremost, give YTO Express access to belly-hold and freighter capacity on the domestic and international networks of HNA-affiliate carriers. The agreement also calls for the joint development of cool-chain transportation solutions across China and express-oriented construction projects within the Hainan Free Trade Zone, where the HNA Group is based. 

The capacity agreement comes at a time when some of the larger combination carriers in China are questioning whether carrying express parcels for the country’s rapidly growing express couriers is a worthwhile endeavor. Last week at Cargo Facts Asia, a number of carriers told Cargo Facts their airlines have restricted capacity available to express carriers on certain key routes and, in some cases, have failed to come to terms at all with major express shippers. HNA affiliate airlines include Hainan Airlines, Suparna Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and seven other regional carriers headquartered throughout China.
See also: YTO Cargo Airlines chasing cross-border e-commerce with 757Fs
A handful of carriers see traffic growth return in March
After a dismal February for Asia-Pacific carriers, March cargo traffic results are painting a more positive picture, with China Southern Airlines and Air China, in particular, seeing cargo traffic growth from 2018 levels of at least a few percent. Among Asian carriers that reported declines for the month, in all cases, March declines were less than those posted earlier in the year – suggesting that, after a shaky start to 2019, the industry may have better things ahead for the remaining quarters.

However, a trend that has certainly been confirmed by these early 2019 reports shows that, for the China-based carriers, domestic cargo traffic is certainly on the decline. Most of the growth was instead supported by international cargo traffic demand. In other regions, carriers reported mixed results for March, with many airlines or groups – including Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM, IAG Cargo, and LATAM Cargo – all reporting gains or declines of within 3%. As is typical by now in the slower growth environment that began at least in mid-2018, Turkish Cargo was the true outlier, reporting 17.1% growth in its cargo volumes for March.

For a detailed look at individual results, click here.
Recent freighter aircraft transactions:

Precision inducted a 757-200 for conversion to freighter configuration (26974, ex-American Airlines) at the AeroTurbine facility in Goodyear [FAT 004854].

SpiceXpress took redelivery of a 737-700BDSF (30512, ex-Xiamen Airlines) on lease from Spectre Air Capital, following conversion to freighter configuration by IAI at the Haite Facility in Tianjin [FATs 004855-004856].

Cargo Air took redelivery of a 737-400SF (28038, ex-Enter Air) following conversion to freighter configuration by AEI at the Commercial Jet facility in Miami [FAT 004857]. This is Cargo Air’s tenth 737 Classic. The Bulgarian specialist cargo carrier plans to convert at least one additional -400 (28882, ex-Go2Sky) that it currently operates in passenger service. 
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