AAV News in Brief 2 March 2021

BOC Aviation, Cathay Pacific, F-drones, Air Astana

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(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneBOC Aviation signs sales-leaseback with Indigo: BOC Aviation announced that it has signed purchase-and-leaseback agreements with InterGlobe Aviation (IndiGo) for eight new Airbus A320NEO aircraft. The aircraft will be powered by CFM Leap engines and are scheduled to be delivered in the second half of 2021. Riyaz Peermohamed, chief aircraft acquisition and financing officer, IndiGo, said: “We are pleased to further strengthen our existing relationship with BOC Aviation. The addition of these eight A320NEO aircraft demonstrates our confidence in the future growth of the aviation market in India.” Robert Martin, managing director and CEO of BOC Aviation, said: “We are delighted to partner once again with IndiGo, India’s largest passenger airline, as we continue to support our airline customers to finance their aircraft deliveries. This incremental capital expenditure also reflects our disciplined investment strategy throughout the cycle, focused on building a portfolio of latest technology aircraft.”

Cathay Pacific delivers first Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines: Cathay Pacific has successfully delivered the first batch of Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines to Hong Kong, drawing on its long-established expertise in pharmaceutical shipments under cold chain protocols to meet the handling demands of the Fosun Pharma/BioNTech product. The first delivery of the first batch of one million Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines to be supplied to Hong Kong arrived from Frankfurt today and were unloaded as priority from a freighter flight to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal. The Cathay Pacific shipments to date include the milestone import of the first vaccines for use in the airline’s home city of Hong Kong on 19 February. The one million doses of Sinovac vaccine were loaded inside six temperature-controlled Envirotainer RAP e2 containers, to maintain the vaccine temperature range of 2°C to 8°C, and carried in the belly hold of an Airbus A330 operating the scheduled passenger flight, CX391. On the same flight, there were 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine destined for Mexico. The single Envirotainer RAP e2 container was towed to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal in a thermal dolly and transferred to a cool room set at 15°-25°C, where it was recharged ahead of its midnight flight to Mexico City via Anchorage on a Boeing 747-8F freighter on flight CX086. To increase links with the European vaccine production hub, Cathay Pacific Cargo is adding a further two Boeing 777 cargo-only flights to operate on the Pharma Corridor between the CEIV-certified airport communities of Brussels and Hong Kong each week.

F-drones raises seed round funding with major shipping companies: F-drones, a Singapore-based start-up developing large scale autonomous drones for maritime logistics, announced its success in raising its seed capital. The round was led by Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS), a ship management company committed to green and technology-driven growth of the maritime industry. The round also saw participation from the Schulte Group, a ship owner and manager with over 135 years of experience, through its venture arm – Innoport, along with SEEDS Capital, Entrepreneur First, Orient Ventures, Superangel and a few Singapore based angel investors. F-drones is the first company in the world to provide 24/7 commercial Beyond-Vision-Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) drone deliveries to ships. It is developing the Hyperlaunch Heavy (HLH), a fully electric and autonomous proprietary drone, capable of delivering 100kg payloads over 100km. “We are very excited to be able to close the round with more capital than we initially intended. This demonstrates the industry’s confidence in our capability and vision to make maritime logistics more efficient, sustainable and safe. The capital will enable us to grow our team, accelerate our technology development and bring an unparalleled solution to market faster”, says Yeshwanth Reddy, co-founder of F-drones. At present, F-drones is conducting test flights on Hyperlaunch, a scaled-down version of HLH, capable of delivering 5kg loads over 50km, which in itself is a notch above most delivery drones in the market now. It is planning to start test flights to ships in Singapore later this year and commence commercial drone deliveries with Hyperlaunch soon after. The funding would enable the company to form more technology and commercial partnerships, and hire global talent in aircraft design, avionics, autonomy and computer vision.

Air Astana sees recovery after loss-making 2020: Air Astana is estimating financial performance for the combined months of January and February 2021 at its highest level since 2017, after reporting a loss of US$94 million in 2020. The 2020 figure, the airline’s second-ever annual loss, was the result of total or partial shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in capacity and revenue falls of 47 percent and 55 percent respectively. Total passengers carried fell by 28 percent to 3.7 million. Commenting on the results, President and CEO Peter Foster said: “While the devastating effect of the pandemic on international travel needs no elaboration, the airline is resilient. Domestic air travel recovered strongly from May, and our low cost carrier FlyArystan recorded 110 percent passenger growth. Cargo had a good year, helped by the conversion of a Boeing 767 into an all-freight configuration, and the partially-restored international network, together with new leisure routes, recorded improved yields and load factors in the final weeks of the year. We are seeing these trends continue into 2021, hence the improved outlook for this year.” In recent months Air Astana has restored some flights to Moscow, Dubai, Tashkent, Frankfurt, Seoul, Bishkek, Kiev, Istanbul, Antalya, and Sharm El Sheikh, in addition to starting flights to The Maldives, Mattala (Sri Lanka) and Hurghada (Egypt). The airline retired its fleets of Boeing 757 and Embraer 190 aircraft in 2020, and now operates exclusively Airbus 321 Long Range and late-model Boeing 767s on its major international routes.

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