Sirika, Emefiele, Access Bank MD receive Africa’s first B737-800 converted freighter jet in Abuja Airport
NIGERIA-BASED and West Africa’s biggest cargo airline, Allied Air, has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737-800 converted freighter.
The aircraft worth about N8 billion, a first for airlines in Africa and a freighter (MSN 36846), is the youngest 737-800 in the world that has been converted to-date.
The technologically advanced cargo aircraft will be deployed to COVID-19 vaccines distribution across Nigeria as one of its first missions, as it is fitted to deliver medical supplies safely.
The deal was financed through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) intervention fund but structured and delivered by the Access Bank Plc.
On ground to receive the aircraft were tHe Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the Central Bank of Nigeri Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Access Bank Group Managing Director, Mr. Hubert Wigwe and the Managing Director of Allied Air, Captain Val Tongo with other government officials.
Speaking at the brief ceremony held at the Abuja Airport, the CEO of Allied Air, Captain Val Tongo while saying the aircraft would be deployed to COVID-19 vaccine distribution, described the freighter (MSN 36846) as the youngest 737-800 in the world converted to freighter to-date.
The CBN Governor, Mr Goodwin Emefiele in his speech said “The aircraft is funded through the intervention fund of the CBN, but through Access Bank. Only about three weeks ago, the Aviation Minister commissioned another aircraft for Air Peace. What does that mean, with the hard work, the Nigerian Aviation Sector is opening up more and more and investments are coming in.”
The CBN Chief called on other investors to invest in the aviation sector, assuring that the CBN and the Nigerian banks were ready to support them.
For Senator Sirika “the aircraft will be dedicated to cargo and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the country. Before the vaccines arrive, the cargo shade would be ready and the aircraft is also ready for distribution.”
The GMD Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, equally said “We are extremely happy to be a part of this endeavour and these are little signals to show that we are coming out for cargo,” adding that this aircraft can carry specialised medical facility.
By this acquisition, Allied Air has set a new standard in air cargo operation in terms of fleet upgrade in the region that is dominated by ad hoc operators and use of old aircraft for cargo operations.
Allied Air, a member airline of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is also the first cargo airline in Africa to attain the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, with the airline successfully renewing its IOSA certificate consecutively since 2016.
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