MANAMA: BAHRAIN marked yet another milestone in aviation history yesterday with a private airline launching a next-generation freighter.

Bahrain-based Texel Air’s Boeing 737-900BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) touched down at Bahrain International Airport during an unveiling ceremony attended by Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed, and officials from the airline and Boeing.

Making its first landing in the Middle East, the freighter is designed to meet the demand for transporting express cargo on domestic routes, according to Boeing Commercial Sales vice-president Anbessie Yitbarek.

“This is a huge opportunity for Texel Air and all its partners; and this moment is historic for Bahrain and the region, because Texel Air is the first cargo carrier in the Middle East to introduce this model freighter,” he said during a speech.

He said the carrier was the right size to support Texel Air’s expansion in the region, especially given that e-commerce is expected to grow by $6.5 trillion next year.

“By choosing the 737-800 freighter, Texel Air has actually chosen a freighter that provides the highest reliability, highest fuel efficiency, and lowest maintenance cost per trip than any other standard body freighter on the market today,” he said, adding that the aircraft will be supported by Boeing Global Services 24/7.

“Texel Air joins a growing number of customers who differentiate themselves by adding 737-800 freighters to their fleet, thereby capitalising on the rapid growth in e-commerce and the express cargo market.

“We expect the e-commerce to be around maybe $6.5trn business next year.”

The hybrid session was attended by representatives from Boeing, Texel Air, BIA and invited guests.

The aircraft is the fourth to be launched by the airline, which was founded in 2013, and the fifth is expected to be launched in September, according to Mr Ahmed, who described the event as another “milestone” for the country.

“The last two years have been extremely challenging for the entire global aviation industry, as well as for us in Bahrain,” he said.

“However, we were able to continue operating our infrastructure, our national carrier, and even the new terminal.

“It is our responsibility as a government to ensure that we create the right business environment for companies like Texel Air to thrive and succeed.”

He commended the ‘private-public partnership’ that Bahrain maintains with Texel Air and other stakeholders.

“We succeeded in this relation and today we see Texel Air celebrating the fourth aircraft and hopefully by September 2022, celebrating the fifth,” he added.

Chisholm Enterprises/Texel Air founder-chairman John Chisholm spoke of his life in Bahrain since 1977, reflecting on the challenges.

“There have been many challenges thrown our way and all this would not have been possible without the support and energy of the Bahrain government and civil aviation,” he said.

“Despite the laurels, we are in the middle of another crisis,” he added, calling for innovative solutions and to “keep Bahrain competitive and supply with goods services and e-commerce opportunities.”

The visitors were later shown around the new aircraft.

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