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The Covid-19 pandemic has stirred up global aviation thrusting ACMI operators to new highs. As airlines all over the world turn to ACMI for flexible solutions, the African market has only now started to discover the true potential of wet-leasing as a capacity support mechanism. According to Dainius Staniulis, Vice President Commercial at Avion Express, the leading narrow-body ACMI and charter operator, some African airlines already use ACMI to their advantage, but in reality, it is still seen as an emergency tool.

Dainius Staniulis shares that more and more airlines start valuing the flexibility ACMI offers. “Covid-19 pandemic has caused airlines to downsize their fleets and in general rethink their operating models. With companies focusing on ways to save funds and optimise operations, more accommodating operating models have been on everyone’s minds.”

According to Vice President Commercial at Avion Express, that is a part of Avia Solutions Group, leaders in end-to-end capacity solutions for passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, extensive conversations with existing clients in Europe and Latin America show that flexible fleet management models are gaining momentum globally as a convenient answer to shifting market demands. “Wet leasing allows airlines to expand or contract within a short period of time, allowing airlines to address high season demand routes without long-term recourses and large investments. Such flexibility is especially desirable and useful during volatile times when there are market and demand uncertainties, and rapid changes can be addressed in a more efficient way.”

While in Europe ACMI is already commonly used to meet the changing seasonal demands, in Africa this model is still barely used. But Dainius Staniulis believes that the change is just around the corner. “African market is very attractive for us due to seasonality. Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa are countercyclical markets, meaning peak seasons for the continents and particular countries can be different. European is the most cyclical market in the world, with huge demand in the summer season (April – October) and very low demand during the winter season (November – March). Meanwhile, in Africa it can be considered as the other way round, making it an excellent opportunity for operators, allowing them to deploy ACMI capacity depending on the hemisphere. African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and even Canadian markets can be great choices to respond to European seasonality. Having good and stable countercyclical partners helps to save costs, keep crews flying, and maximise revenues.”

According to Dainius Staniulis, Africa is seen as a growing market with a lot of opportunities, possibilities for new routes, new airlines as well as existing airlines growing their fleets. And this is where ACMI could benefit the developing operators. “As a flexible ACMI airline, Avion Express could be a great partner for African airlines, offering flexible and convenient capacity solutions.”