Singaporean holding Asia Cargo Network has acquired a 49% stake in Bahrain's MAE Aircraft Management, the parent company of MENA Cargo Airlines (Bahrain International), with plans to expand the cargo specialist's fleet.

ACN will also contribute aircraft to MENA Cargo Airlines with plans to add six freighters over the next 18 months, all of which will be based out of Bahrain International. The first two aircraft, a B737-800 freighter and a B767-300F, will deliver to MENA Cargo Airlines over the next two months. ACN said that initially, MENA Cargo Airlines will wet-lease B737-800(BCF) 9M-WCA (msn 29052) from World Cargo Airlines and B737-300(F) PK-MGZ (msn 28398) from Asia Cargo Airlines. The airline was negotiating further direct leases of B737 and B767 freighters.

MENA Cargo Airlines currently operates a single B737-300(F), the ch-aviation fleets module shows. The aircraft will remain in the fleet as the new units deliver. The Bahraini carrier will also retain its current brand, although its operations will be managed entirely by ACN.

"We're incredibly proud of this historic milestone for Asia Cargo Network as we expand our operations into the MENA region. Our partnership with MAE is a testament to our commitment to excellence, and we look forward to cementing our reputation as a strong global player in the industry," ACN Chief Executive Marco Isaak said.

"Over the past couple of years, we looked at and analysed the regional markets to see where the growth is and where the gates are to the global markets. The growth and potential we saw are mainly in the GCC area, Africa and Southeast Asia. Our thought process was to try to link and serve these markets. ACN as the leading freight cargo operator in Southeast Asia was identified as the perfect partner for MAE to expand our services in these markets," MAE's Founder and Managing Director Mohammed Juman added.

ACN currently owns three airlines in South-East Asia: Malaysia's World Cargo Airlines (with a fleet consisting of a single B737-400(F) and two B737-800(BCF)s), and Indonesia's Asia Cargo Airlines (five B737-300(F)s) and RGA-Black Stone Airlines (three B737-300(F)s).