Afghan airline acquires first aircraft
East Horizon Airlines, the first Afghan airline certified under the country's new internationally compliant cargo aviation standards, has obtained its first aircraft. Commercial operations will begin in May.
East Horizon purchased four CASA 212-100 ramp-loading cargo planes from EADS CASA. Prior to reaching Afghanistan, the aircraft will stop at Malta and the United Arab Emirates for final inspection, maintenance and pilot training.
Once the plans are in Afghanistan, East Horizon will then complete the final operational measures necessary to obtain the Afghan Aviation Ministry’s air operator’s certificate.
Although East Horizon’s first operational routes will be domestic — moving cargo from Kabul to smaller Afghan cities — the airline has plans to expand. In fact, Western China, India and the United Arab Emirates are expected to be among its first international destinations.
In addition to making a big splash with international markets, East Horizon Airlines CEO Peter Donlevy also anticipates modernizing the airfreight industry. “We can load and unload cargo without relying on the kind of expensive hydraulic loading equipment you only find in Afghanistan’s largest cities,” he explained in a statement. “We can drive equipment right onto the plane, and we can load non-motorized cargo using a donkey and a rope in those locations where more modern loading equipment is not available.”
Given the political and economic unrest felt throughout Afghanistan, this acquisition is a welcome milestone for the country, East Horizon Airlines executives say. Moreover, East Horizon Airlines Chairman Fawad Sultani remarked, “We are a 100-percent Afghan-owned cargo airline dedicated to supporting and accelerating the redevelopment of Afghanistan by moving reconstruction materials across the country more safely and quickly than is currently possible.”