Challenge Group lands investment package for 767 conversions

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Maltese-based airfreight and logistics specialist Challenge Group is receiving investment supporting its acquisition and freighter conversion of a batch of Boeing 767-300ERs.

Investec Aviation Finance is providing just over €60m for the purchase and modification of four 767s.

Challenge Group operates carrier divisions in Israel – the company formerly known as CAL Cargo Airlines – as well as Belgium and Malta, and its fleet includes Boeing 747-400 as well as 767 freighters.

“This conversion programme is the keystone in Challenge Group’s expansion strategy as it allows it to increase its current fleet of eight widebody freighters,” says the company’s chief investment officer, Michael Koish.

“This was no straightforward financing deal. But thanks to strong co-operation and out-of-the box thinking, we were able to solve some of the complicated issues that popped up along the way.”

Challenge Group’s logistics operation also includes a cargo terminal in Liege.

Investec says the funding has been underwritten jointly by its UK and South African aviation arms.

Senior associate Joseph Barnwell says the firm has been able to create an “innovative financing package” to take into account the value of the converted aircraft as well as Challenge Group’s ability to use them before, and after, the modification.

In October last year, Challenge Group became the first customer for the B767-200/300 conversion programme launched by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in cooperation with MRO Avia Prime Group, taking place in the premises of Avia’s Belgrade-based subsidiary, JAT Tehnika.

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