Cargo airlines key to rebuilding Afghanistan
East Horizon Airlines, Afghanistan’s latest cargo airline, reaffirmed its commitment to helping build a sustainable commercial sector in the country in a presentation delivered at the recent Afghanistan Air Cargo and Logistics Conference in Dubai. The airline emphasised its commitment to bringing dependable, reliable air cargo service to more remote areas of Afghanistan which currently rely on overland cargo transport.
Peter Donlevy, Chief Executive Officer, East Horizon Airlines, was a panelist during the conference presentation, ‘Prospects for the Airline Industry in Afghanistan’. He discussed the vital role that transportation of air cargo is playing in boosting the domestic economy and aiding the rebuilding efforts, not only to the main airports but also to the more remote locations of Afghanistan.
“The key to the organic growth of Afghanistan is to build commerce, and cargo flights are a major way of doing this. There will be a sustained demand for cargo to move around Afghanistan as the military withdrawal takes effect,” said Donlevy.
Cargo airlines such as East Horizon will play an increasingly important role in the redevelopment and reconstruction of Afghanistan as the US military pulls out of the country over the next three years.
“As the stability of Afghanistan continues to improve, more and more commercial opportunities will open up within the country. Having access to reliable, efficient cargo carriers is crucial to rebuilding this trade, and our new fleet of versatile aircraft provides that,” said Donlevy.
While other cargo flights within Afghanistan are restricted to the main airports, East Horizon Airlines’ fleet of four CASA 212 ramp-loading cargo planes can land on almost any graded surface. “We have the ability to load and unload cargo in most locations, with our aircraft enabling us to get into unimproved areas that are inaccessible to other aircraft such as Boeing and Airbus,” added Donlevy. “This will make it possible to get equipment, goods and humanitarian supplies to their ultimate destinations across Afghanistan more quickly, safely and reliably than ever before.”
In front of an audience of government officials, representatives of NGOs and businesspeople keen to do trade in Afghanistan, Donlevy emphasised the importance of companies being on the ground in Afghanistan, partnering with locals and contributing more directly to the local economy.
“An Afghan company is one that lives, breathes and works in Afghanistan – not one based in another country which visits from time to time. We live and work in Afghanistan and are committed to being part of its new aviation sector,” added Donlevy. He pointed out that each western employee within the company is paired with an Afghan employee so that western expertise and local knowledge are constantly shared.
East Horizon Airlines is the first Afghan airline certified under the new internationally-compliant Afghanistan aviation standards. Having already taken delivery of its first aircraft, it is now preparing its first official cargo flights within Afghanistan.
Donlevy spoke about the significant challenges it has had to overcome in reaching this point. In a process spanning almost two years, East Horizon Airlines has worked with authorities to improve regulations, trained staff, including pilots and ground crew, and acquired four aircraft.
“As the first airline designed from the ground up to comply with the new internationally-recognized Afghanistan civil aviation regulations, East Horizon Airlines is uniquely positioned to lead the way as a new Afghan aviation industry emerges,” added Donlevy.
East Horizon will have a fleet of five aircraft in operation by the end of the year, with further expansion planned for the next two to three years as market demand dictates.
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