An airline born as the freighter section of the Abu Dhabi Royal Flight has grown into a serious competitor in the specialized air cargo market. Maximus Air Cargo (Stand E700) now operates eight freighters and has hired European sales, marketing and load-planning expertise to help it compete for wet-lease and charter business worldwide.
The huge Antonov An-124 Ruslan freighter in the static park belongs to Maximus, and so does the L-382 Hercules alongside it. The company owns a second L-382, which is currently in Hong Kong on a filming contract. Maximus also operates three Ilyushin Il-76TDs, and therefore has a total of six ramp-loaded freighters that can easily haul wheeled, heavy or awkward loads. For more conventional, pallet-loaded air cargo, Maximus offers two Airbus A300-600RF freighters. They have already flown for a variety of carriers–Air France; Cygnus Air of Spain; Etihad; and Empost, the courier division of the Emirates Post Office.
Maximus gained its air operators certificate (AOC) from the UAE authorities last March. Effectively, that means it must comply with operating standards comparable to Europe’s JAR OPS, according to the carrier. “We offer reliable, short-notice solutions for virtually any cargo aircraft requirement,” said Fathi Hilal Buhazza, president and CEO. A sales office has been set up at London Stansted Airport in the UK. The royal family of Abu Dhabi still owns the carrier.
In its previous guise as “Experts Commercial Agencies,” Maximus did many relief flights, to Lebanon after last year’s conflict with Israel; to Pakistan after the earthquake; and to Indonesia after the tsunami. More recently, it has been flying humanitarian missions to Darfur, Sudan. The 120-tonne capacity An-124 is the only one based in the Middle East. Like the three Il-76s, it is crewed by Ukrainians and kept on that country’s civil register. Maximus is evaluating whether to have the Il-76s re-engined with PS-90s, so that they can meet ICAO Chapter Three noise standards and therefore fly freely into Europe, the U.S. and Asia.