SmartLynx A321P2F arrives in Brazil, first of type to operate in South America   - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

The first Airbus A321P2F (passenger-to-cargo converted freighter) to operate on the continent of South America has arrived in Brazil ahead of its entry into service with new Brazilian cargo company, Levu Air Cargo. The aircraft, operated by ACMI carrier SmartLynx Malta and leased to Levu Air, will be flown exclusively on routes within the continent on behalf of express freight giant, DHL Express.

As a startup in the emerging market of air cargo carriers in Brazil, Levu Air Cargo plans to operate in both national and international markets through both its own fleet and strategic partnerships. The company is headquartered in Campinas, one of the primary air hubs in Brazil. It also plans to operate from bases in Recife, Belém, and Manaus.

According to a Levu Air statement, the company was “established to introduce innovation and provide high service standards in the Brazilian market, which led the company to select the finest aircraft in its category.”

A spokesperson for Levu Air stated that the newfound carrier is engaging in the final steps with ANAC (the Brazilian aviation regulator) for its certification process and expects to obtain its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) in June 2024 following which it will be authorized to transport all types of cargo on the aircraft including dangerous goods.

Once it has obtained its AOC, the carrier will also start the process of certification under European (EASA), and US (FAA and DOT) so it may perform international cargo flights from 2025.

The dry-leased aircraft (registered (9H-CGD) arrived in Recife, Brazil on May 10, 2024, after a lengthy ferry flight from its base at Malta International Airport (MLA) to Recife (REC) with just a single stop in Espargos Airport (SID) in Sal, Cape Verde. Once the aircraft has been registered by the Brazilian aviation authorities, the aircraft is expected to take up the local registration of PS-LVU.

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“We specifically sought out SmartLynx due to their extensive knowledge of the aircraft as they are the biggest operator for A321F in the world today,” said Rodrigo Pacheco, Chief Executive of Levu Air Cargo.

“Their partnership with DHL in Europe makes the learning curve much more efficient for us as we will operate for the DHL supply chain here in Brazil. This strategic decision helps us deliver top-notch performance and ensures the best results for our valued customers,” he added.

“Our partnership with Levu marks a significant milestone, not only for the Brazilian aviation market with the introduction of the first A321F registered in the country and region, but also for SmartLynx as we extend our cargo capacity management services to Latin America,” said Edvinas Demenius, Chief Executive of SmartLynx Airlines. “This important step is a part of our strategic efforts to expand our geography and we see much potential in this region.”

SmartLynx Malta is a subsidiary of Latvian-based SmarLynx Airlines, which itself is part of Avia Solutions Group (ASG). SmartLynx operates a mixed fleet of Airbus A320, A321, A321F, A330, and Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The aircraft concerned in the lease agreement between the parties is 26.4 years old, having originally been delivered to defunct UK charter carrier Airworld in February 1998. Having served with a range of carriers carrying passengers during its career (including Flying Colours, Air Jamaica, Turkuaz Airlines, and Ural Airlines) the aircraft was converted into a freighter in September 2022 and has flown with SmarLynx Malta since.

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The A321F is the only aircraft in its category capable of handling containerized cargo on both its lower and main decks, which significantly improves turnover efficiency and operational flexibility.

With its expanding portfolio of ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) specialist airlines. ASG itself currently holds 12 AOCs internationally serving passenger and cargo ACMI businesses and plans to establish and acquire four additional airlines across various countries by the end of 2024. The Group currently operates a combined fleet of 212 aircraft, making it the world’s largest ACMI service company group. 

On May 13, 2024, ASG announced that another of its new startup airlines, Avion Express Brasil had entered Phase 3 of the certification process for the acquisition of its own AOC in Brazil. The carrier hopes to complete the certification process and begin operations in late 2024.   

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SmartLynx Airlines will operate to almost 200 destinations during summer 2024

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