Afghan cargo airline receives first planes
East Horizon Airlines, Afghanistan’s newest cargo airline and the first certified under new aviation standards, has taken delivery of its first aircraft.
The airline acquired four CASA 212-100 ramp-loading cargo planes from EADS CASA. The aircraft will make stops in Malta and the United Arab Emirates for final inspection, maintenance and pilot training before proceeding on to Afghanistan.
Once the aircraft arrive in Afghanistan, East Horizon will complete the final operational preparations necessary for the granting of the air operator’s certificate (AOC) by the Afghan Aviation Ministry. East Horizon executives expect the final operating certificate to be awarded in May 2011, with the airline planning to begin cargo operations the day after the AOC is awarded.
“We are a 100% Afghan-owned cargo airline dedicated to supporting and accelerating the re-development of Afghanistan by moving reconstruction materials across the country more safely and quickly than is currently possible,” said Fawad Sultani, chairman, East Horizon Airlines.
“As the first airline designed from the ground up to comply with the new internationally-recognised Afghanistan civil aviation regulations, East Horizon Airlines will lead the way as a new Afghan aviation industry emerges” added Sultani.
The airline’s first operational routes will be inside Afghanistan, moving cargo from Kabul to smaller Afghan cities, which have previously been reliant on road links.
East Horizon Airlines is also in negotiations to expand its service network beyond Afghanistan, with its first international destinations likely to include the UAE, Western China and India.
East Horizon Airlines selected the CASA 212-100 as the first aircraft in its fleet because of its capacity, strong safety record and short take-off.
“The CASA 212-100 can take off from unimproved landing areas in as little as 1,500 feet. That sort of performance is essential when we are trying to serve remote cities and towns which have had little or no air cargo service previously, because they may not have a conventional airstrip,” said Peter Donlevy, chief executive officer, East Horizon Airlines.