The region’s flurry of airline start-ups and burgeoning single-aisle fleet has spurred MENA Aerospace to launch Bahrain’s first maintenance, repair and overhaul business in partnership with US specialist Aviance Global.
The business was launched at a ceremony at the Bahrain International Airshow on 9 November.
Branded MENA Technics, the venture will see MENA expand its hangar facility at Bahrain International Airport, initially from the current two bays to three. However, it has also submitted for an additional two-bay MRO facility for narrowbodies.
The business will serve both commercial airlines and private jet operators and will be European Union Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 accredited.
“There has been a huge growth in the fleet in this region,” says Dr Mohamed Juman, founder and managing director of MENA Aerospace. The initiative “supports the kingdom’s efforts in strengthening its position as a key aviation and logistics hub”, he adds.
The two companies plan to expand the collaboration to Saudi Arabia “in the near future”.
Phillip Edinborough, founder and chief executive of Aviance says MENA was “the obvious choice” for its expansion into the Gulf market. “This partnership enhances the services and expertise offered in Bahrain and paves the way for further expansion,” he continues.
It is the second major announcement from MENA at the show. On 8 November it confirmed plans to launch a cargo partnership with Singapore-based Asia Cargo Network, which will see the companies operate an eventual fleet of 13 narrowbody aircraft in the Gulf, with plans to add a Boeing 767 in the next three months.
The first two ACN aircraft, a Boeing 737-800F and a 767-300F, will arrive in the next two months, joining MENA’s 737-300 converted freighter, and beginning operations “immediately”.
The rest of the fleet will deploy over three years, says ACN, which is also taking a 49% equity stake in the new venture.
The move comes as the Bahrain authorities bolster the country’s credentials as an air freight hub. The island is one of four global hubs for German parcels and logistics giant DHL, which is expanding its Bahrain-registered fleet. Meanwhile, DHL’s rival FedEx Express will become the anchor tenant of a new Cargo Village being built at the airport. Texel is another significant air cargo operator.
The “strategic alliance” will position the companies “among the key players in freight in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa”, says MENA.
Juman says the company looked at “where the growth is” in the global freight market and identified the Gulf, Africa and Southeast Asia.
“Our thought process was to try to link and serve these markets,” he says. “We identified ACN as the leading freight operator in Southeast Asia to be the perfect partner to expand our services in these markets.”
ACN group chief executive Marco Isaak describes the partnership as a “historic milestone as we expand our operations into the [Middle East and North Africa] region”.
The venture will operate under the MENA Cargo brand under a Bahrain air operator’s certificate. MENA Cargo was set up in 2020 and has its own Bahrain AOC, awarded in 2021.
ACN was established in 2015 and has companies in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It owns World Cargo Airlines, Asia Cargo Airlines and Aero Speed Aviation.