Following Georgian Airways Cargo and GeoSky, Georgia can now count a third cargo airline at the country’s recently modernized cargo hub, Tiblisi Airport. CAMEX Airlines LLC is the newcomer, fresh off the freighter conversion belt. It offers charter and ACMI services for all types of cargo. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked CAMEX Airlines CEO, George Seturidze (GS), for more details.
On 04JUL22, CAMEX Airlines LLC took delivery of its first aircraft: an ex-Ryanair, 2003-vintage B737-800, which had been ferried to Guangzhou, China in OCT21, for its conversion to a freighter. Now bearing the registration 4L-CMX, the plane is ready for business ever since the airline received its AOC on 01AUG22. On that occasion, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, announced: “I’m very excited to be here today for the launch of this beautiful Boeing 737 aircraft, which is the first of CAMEX Airlines’ new fleet of cargo planes. This is a project that is another great example of Georgian and U.S. economic collaboration. The American-led Gazelle Finance invested 2.5 million dollars in CAMEX Airlines, which is part of how this airplane got here today; and we are delighted to be able to support these kinds of business deals that are going to be so helpful in Georgia’s role as an economic hub, bringing products - Georgian products - to Europe and beyond, and serving as a gateway between Asia and Europe.” Georgian Vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy, Levan Davitashvili, added: “Thanks to the situation in the domestic economy and the U.S. support, Georgia will have a modern air cargo carrier,” and that “we are witnessing the beginning of a very successful initiative, a successful project.” So, what is behind the project and what are the airline’s plans? CFG turned to CAMEX Airlines’ CEO, George Seturidze (GS):
CFG: What led to the founding of CAMEX Airlines? And by whom?
GS: CAMEX International LLC, one of the leading freight-forwarding companies in the region, initiated the project of establishing CAMEX Airlines LLC, an air cargo carrier, in 2021. CAMEX International has been operating on the market for more than 15 years and has an international network within CIS Countries, Central Asia, Europe, and the United States.
CFG: What is the story behind the name?
GS: The name originates from the Mount CAMARA in Caucasus, the beautiful mountainous region of Georgia.
CFG: You recently took delivery of your first B737-800F. How many more aircraft are to come and by when?
GS: The first aircraft B737-800BCF was leased from BBAM and delivered on 04JUL22. CAMEX Airlines is planning to acquire 3 more aircraft of the same type B737-800, by the end of 2022. All aircraft will be on lease terms.
Gazelle Finance, the U.S. investment fund is one of the shareholders of CAMEX Airlines. This is American investment and backed by the U.S. government.
CFG: You received your AOC on 01AUG22. How long did this take and were there complications because of the pandemic?
GS: Yes, we received AOC on 01AUG22. It took about 6 months, and the process went smoothly and successfully.
CFG: Where will your first flight be heading and when? What commodities will be on board?
GS: We booked our first flight on 15AUG22 from TBS to China with general cargo on board. We have already signed full charter agreements with Asian freight forwarders. The company will also carry its parent company, CAMEX International's cargo on the way back to the trans-Caucasus region.
CFG: Will there be a celebratory send-off? What will this entail and who is invited?
GS: We celebrated delivery of the first aircraft on 04JUL22, and on 01AUG22, the company hosted the AOC certification ceremony, which was attended by the Honorable U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, the Vice Premier and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, government high officials, and representatives of international organizations and the business sector.
CFG: Which destinations will CAMEX Airlines predominantly serve?
GS: CAMEX Airlines will operate on the routes connecting Southern China, Macao /Hong Kong to Europe (Liege, Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt-Hahn), and the Middle East.
CFG: What sets CAMEX Airlines apart?
GS: CAMEX International has an international network with warehouses in Europe, Asia, and the United States. The company offers warehousing and handling to its customers. CAMEX Airlines is a separate entity with more than 50 employees. However, the recruitment process is underway, and we are planning to increase the number of personnel up to 150.
CFG: CAMEX Airlines will be the third Georgian cargo airline next to Georgian Airways Cargo and GeoSky, and alongside international cargo players. Is there enough cargo to go
GS: There is a huge demand for air cargo. The demand reached the all-time high during the pandemic. And the airlines are taking all measures to find the needed capacity. The spillover effect of the Indian and Chinese markets when air cargo capacity cannot cope with the demand, presents a good opportunity for CAMEX Airlines to enlarge at a chosen geo-strategic area with the right development strategy.
CGG: What is your expectation for the rest of 2022? And what are the plans for 2023 for CAMEX Airlines?
GS: As I have already mentioned we are planning to acquire 3 more B737 aircraft till the end of 2022. In 2023, the widebody aircraft acquisition is on the agenda.
CAMEX Airlines, together with its contractors, partners, and client companies throughout the countries of Europe, China, India, and the USA, identify business and profit opportunities and develop projects and strategic partnerships to implement and benefit from them.
Thank you for your time, George Seturidze.
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