Nigeria-based major cargo carrier, Allied Air has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737-800 converted freighter.
The airline said aircraft is worth about N8 billion and it is the first for the cargo airline in Africa, adding that the freighter (MSN 36846) is the youngest 737-800 in the world that has been converted to-date.
Allied Air also said the aircraft would be deployed for COVID-19 vaccines distribution across Nigeria as one of its first missions, saying the equipment is fitted with temperature controlled facilities so that it would be able to deliver medical supplies effectively.
The aircraft acquisition was reported to have been financed through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) intervention fund but structured and delivered by the Access Bank Plc.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika; Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Access Bank Plc Group Managing Director, Mr. Hubert Wigwe and Managing Director of Allied Air, Capt. Val Tongo, along with other government officials received the aircraft on arrival.
It was also welcomed with water canon ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Speaking at a brief ceremony held at the Abuja Airport, Tongo said the aircraft would be deployed for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
He confirmed that the freighter (MSN 36846) is the youngest 737-800 in the world converted to freighter to-date.
In his comments, Emefiele said: The aircraft is funded through the intervention fund of the CBN, but accessed via 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,” he added.
He called on other investors to invest in the aviation sector, assuring that the CBN and the Nigerian banks are ready to support them.
The minister said at the event that 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.”
Just like the CBN Governor, he tasked other operators to invest in the aviation industry so that it could double its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product to five per cent or N450 billion annually.
The Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, said the aircraft would undergo the mandatory process that would ensure the airline has acquired the proficiency to safely fly the aircraft.
“Right now they are going through demonstration flight where they will show the ability to handle this type of aircraft,” he said.
On his part, Wigwe, 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.
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.