MK moves 747s from Ghana to UK

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Cargo carrier MK Airlines is to re-register its Boeing 747-200 freighter fleet in the UK, transferring it from the Ghanaian registry in a strategic bid to expand its business, writes David Kaminski-Morrow.

MK Airlines' freighter fleet has been on the Ghanaian register since the airline was founded in 1990. It operates 14 freighters, a mix of Boeing 747s and McDonnell Douglas DC-8s.

The carrier will submit an application to the UK Civil Aviation Authority this month to transfer the 747s, a process that will take about six months, but has yet to decide whether to re-register the ageing DC-8s too.

MK Airlines chief executive Mike Kruger insists the decision has not been influenced by recent US restrictions on Ghanaian-registered aircraft. "It's always been the long-term strategic plan," he says. "It will open up a whole lot of new business." Kruger describes the re-registration as a "logical step" for the airline, which has about half of its 450-strong workforce in the UK, adding that it will give the carrier greater flexibility.

He says the carrier will "look closely" at transferring the DC-8s, but the 747s are its primary focus because of their economic advantages. It has yet to determine how long to retain the DC-8 fleet.

MK Airlines, which recently transferred its European operations from London Manston Airport to Ostend in Belgium, serves about 30 destinations. It is majority-owned by private equity house Northcote Holding, an Isle of Man-based company linked with investor Farhad Moshiri.

The carrier, which is expecting revenues to increase by 15% this year from $292 million in 2004, is preparing to receive European Part 145 maintenance approval in July and intends to seek third-party servicing work for its UK engineering base at Filton.