Challenge Airlines BE to double freighter fleet

Source: Challenge Airlines BE

Challenge Airlines BE plans to double its fleet of aircraft by the end of 2023.

The airline, which received its AOC from Belgian authorities in 2019, currently operates with a fleet of two aircraft – one B747-400BCF (OO-ACE), and a B747-400ERF (OO-ACF).

However, two more B747Fs are set to transfer from sister airline Challenge Airlines IL – formerly CAL Cargo – in 2023 to double the Belgium-based airline’s fleet size.

The group has also signed a letter of intent for a fifth B747 to join Challenge Airlines BE, although a date of arrival has not been specified for this aircraft.

Challenge Airlines BE operates around 36 flights per week. While some of these are charters (mostly to destinations in China), it also offers services to Sharjah, Tel Aviv, Wuhan, and US connections. 

The carrier said it had a record year in 2021 and expects another record year in 2022.

Chief operating officer of Challenge Airlines BE Martin Scheffmann said: “Since our fleet is our own, we are not driven by maximising flight hours, and can therefore offer our customers additional ground time to load and unload their complex, odd, or oversized shipments.”

Air Cargo News has asked whether the aircraft transferred from Challenge Airlines IL will be replaced and is awaiting a response.

However, in April, Challenge Group chief executive Yossi Shoukroun told Air Cargo News that the company plans to continue its expansion by adding new aircraft types.

“Our strategy is to triple our current fleet size and operate 12 aircraft within the next five years,” he said. “We aim to add four Boeing 767Fs and four B777F converted aircraft, and have applied for a new AOC in Malta, where Challenge Group is headquartered.

“Moving to twin-engine aircraft operations will enable us to implement a more sustainable business model. We are still evaluating which new destinations we will serve with this additional capacity.”

Challenge Group reveals ambitious freighter fleet growth plans

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector. After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015. Contact me on [email protected]