MENA Cargo Airlines (MA, Bahrain International) plans to add at least three B737-800 freighters over the coming months with the first due to deliver shortly, the company's executives told STAT Trade Times in an interview.

"We are adding a B737-800(F) in December/January of this year with a 22-tonne capacity. We will be securing two more B737-800(F)s in the second quarter of the next year and the third quarter. In addition, there will be additional aircraft in the Saudi market and in the South East Asian market to capitalise on the huge growth of e-commerce occurring throughout the world," Accountable Manager Brian Hogan and his deputy Peter Hewett said.

Hogan did not respond to ch-aviation's query about the identity of the forthcoming B737-800 freighters. Earlier, he confirmed the plans to add the -800s but underlined that prevailing COVID-related restrictions on travel were complicating the procedure.

The Bahraini cargo specialist currently operates a single B737-300(F). It certified in late October 2021 (with its AOC based on the certificate of MAE Aircraft Management), but has yet to begin revenue operations. Hogan and Hewett said the start-up started "fully commercially operations" as of November 1, 2021, but AirNav RadarBox ADS-B data shows that its sole aircraft has not been active since its proving flights on October 11-12. MENA Cargo Airlines also recently signed a charter agreement with Portugal's euroAtlantic Airways for the charter of one B767-300ER and one B777-200ER in makeshift freighter configurations.

The company's executives underlined that MENA Cargo Airlines was not a regional carrier but would rather use Bahrain International as a connecting hub to provide cargo capacity between Asia, Africa, Europe, and Northern America, deploying both its in-house narrowbody freighters and widebodies chartered from euroAtlantic. In Africa, the carrier is looking at Nigeria as its most promising market while in Asia, MENA Cargo Airlines identifies Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Hong Kong International as potential target markets.

"MENA Cargo is receiving daily enquiries about charters. Ad hoc charters are a key part of our strategy, but they are not the only element in the mix. We are here to make money, of course, but we are also growing a meaningful cargo airline brand. In the next 6-12 months as we ramp up, we do expect that there will be a lot of charters as we build up further capital to reinvest," Hewett said.