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ICH-1st Flight to Yantai.jpg
ICH-2016-10 - 737-800 - F Conversion.jpg
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Formed in 2012 and started operations in 2013. Regional & international, cargo jet airplane services.
220 Incheon International Airport
Freight Terminal Road 294-194
Incheon 400-707, South Korea
THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA (TAEHAN MIN-GUK) WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1948, IT COVERS AN AREA OF 99,016 SQ KM, ITS POPULATION IS 46 MILLION, ITS CAPITAL CITY IS SEOUL, AND ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IS KOREAN.
February 2015: Air Incheon (ICH) has taken delivery of its first 737-400F (24912, HL8271) ex-Air One ((IATA) Code: AP, based at Rome Fiumicino) (ACH), that has been converted into a freighter by Aeronautical Engineers at Miami International. It will operate the 737-400F on its own air operator certificate (AOC) from March 1 onwards and not wet-lease 737-400F from Jeju Air ((IATA) Code: 7C, based at Jeju) (JJA) as previously reported. Air Incheon (ICH) plans to operate scheduled cargo services from its home base at Incheon to Tokyo Haneda, and Qingdao,
April 2015: Air Incheon (ICH) is looking to expand its operations with the start of new scheduled cargo services to China, Japan, and Russia in the coming weeks.
According to the "Yonhap" news agency, the cargo specialist will, on April 30, begin a 6x weekly service from its Seoul Incheon hub to Tokyo Narita followed by a 3x weekly flight to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the largest city on Sakhalin Island, Russia. Thereafter, on May 8, a 3x weekly service to Yantai Penglai International will also launch.
May 2015: News Item A-1: Air Incheon (ICH) is a Korean freight carrier based in Incheon, South Korea. The carrier operates scheduled and charter cargo services domestically and to China, Japan and Russia utilizing 737F equipment operated by Jeju Air (JJA).
(IATA) Code: KJ. (Callsign - AIR-INCHEON).
Main base: Incheon International Airport (ICN), Seoul, South Korea.
* Yantai Laishan International Airport (YNT).
* Narita International Airport (NRT).
* Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport (UUS).
News Item A-2: "Korean Transport Ministry is Pushing for Aircraft Age Limit" by Jeremy Torr, Air Transport World (ATW), May 22, 2015.
Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, & Transport (MLIT) is urging all Korean airplane operators to replace or mothball all airplanes that are more than two decades old.
The (MLIT) said that eight of the country’s carriers had signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) in which they “voluntarily agreed to replace all their airplanes that are 20 years old or older.”
The move comes following a spate of airplane maintenance issues in the region.
In April, Japan and Korea suspended charter flights from Thailand following an (ICAO) inspection, and two air operator’s certificates (AOCs) in the Philippines were withdrawn recently following a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) audit.
To date, Korean Air (KAL), Asiana Airlines (AAR), Air Busan (ABN), Jeju Air (JJA), Jin Air (JIN), Air Incheon (ICH), Eastar Jet (EJS), and T’way Air (TWY) have all agreed to the 20-year ruling.
The (MLIT) said the agreement was part of Korea’s “ongoing efforts to improve on airline safety.” The (MLIT) said records indicate that of 264 airplanes in service this month, some 14 are (MLIT)’s new voluntary age limit. These are four Korean Air (KAL) Boeing 747-400s, Air Incheon (ICH) 737-400Fs, and Asiana (AAR) 767-300 and 747-400F cargo airplanes.
Korean Air (KAL)’s average airplane age is 9.89 years; No 2 carrier, Asiana Airlines (AAR), has an average airplane age of 8.47 years, according to the Ministry.
Compared to the USA, Korean fleets are mere toddlers, the (MLIT) said, citing Delta Air Lines (DAL)’s fleet that has 234 airplanes 20+ years old, and American Airlines (AAL)’s fleet, which has 233+ airplanes of that age or more.
Although the (MLIT) noted that “there currently is no limit on the age or lifespan of an airplane,” it said the move would help improve both overall safety and efficiency.
June 2015: Air Incheon (ICH) added a maiden 737-300F freighter.
February 2016: Air Incheon (ICH) has renewed its power-by-the-hour (PBH) contract with (AJW) Aviation. (AJW) will continue to provide full ATA Chapter (PBH) support for (ICH)’s growing fleet of Boeing airplanes.
October 2016: Air Incheon (ICH) agreed to lease 3 737-800Fs from Spectre Air Capital, Texas for delivery September 2017, March 2018, and September 2018; airplanes are being converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) under launch order for 15 737-700 and 737-800 units, plus options.
Click below for photos:
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ICH-737-4YOF - 2015-05.jpg
1 737-300F (CFM56-3C1), 2015-06. FREIGHTER.
1 737-4Y0SF (CFM56-3C1) (2064-24912 /91 HL8271 ), EX-(N310MS), 2013-02.
1 737-400F (CFM56-3C1) (2256-25190, /91 HL), EX-(N519AG) 2013-11. FREIGHTER.
3 737-800 (CFM56-7B) TO BE CONVERTED TO F BY ISRAEL AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES (IAI) STARTING 2017-09.
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ERIC VERCESI, VP SALES & PLANNING.
2014-04: Interview by Thomas Jaeger, ch-aviation.
Air Incheon (ICH) is a cargo airline that commenced operations in 2013 and is focused on operations from Seoul Incheon Airport in South Korea to Eastern Russia, as well as to Japan and China. Currently, (ICH) operates two Boeing 737-400F freighters with an average age of 23 years.
TJ: You have launched operations 15 months ago. What were the key reasons for setting up Air Incheon (ICH)?
EV: It all started with the activities in Sakhalin. (ICH) is a spin-off of another company called Air Cargo Charter, which also belongs to Mr Park and which has been operating a Russian Antonov 12 on a charter basis between Sakhalin and Seoul Incheon for about eight years. Because of the demand and the need for a better and more reliable airplane, Mr Park decided to create an airline registered in Korea and to operate with a 737. So this is where (ICH) comes from. And then of course it evolved into a scheduled airline from there.
TJ: But are you still working with Antonov 12s today?
EV: No, we do not operate with Antonov 12 any longer and we are not sourcing additional capacity from partners. We only use our own airplanes.
TJ: You mentioned Mr Park also owns Air Incheon (ICH), so it is entirely Korean owned?
EV: (ICH) is 85% Korean owned, while the other 15% in the airline are owned by foreign investors. Concluding, you can say that Mr Park has built up the business over the years and then saw the need to set up (ICH) because of the demand from the oil and gas industry in Russia.
TJ: What is the competitive landscape like on your key routes between Korea and Russia? Do you have competitors?
EV: We do not have competitors per se in the cargo business. The passenger demand is low, so competitors can only fly narrow body airplanes between the two countries, so have very limited belly space available. But that is the situation right now. We cannot think that we will continue to be by ourselves forever, so there might be some competition in the future. I would not be surprised if there would be some new players one day.
TJ: Who are your customers for cargo being sent to Sakhalin?
EV: It is a typical oil and gas project area where the major project forwarders work, pretty much the same customers worldwide that you would see in Siberia, Africa, the USA, etc. Around 80% of the cargo is coming from seven major freight forwarders with the remaining business coming from a number of smaller agents.
TJ: So you are still operating under the radar of Asiana (AAR) and Korean (KAL) and they are not interested in this business?
EV: I do not know whether Asiana (AAR) or Korean Air (KAL) are interested in flying into Russia with freighters. We are sure they are looking at it. The reason why they do not fly, might be that they only operate wide body airplanes and there is just not enough volume to put a 767 or a 777 on those routes. In addition to that, the demand is only one-directional. There is only export to Russia but nearly no import. So the airplane needs to be make money on the one-way. Only if equipment needs to be removed from Sakhalin, there is demand on our flights out of Russia.
TJ: The equipment you move to Sakhalin does not all come from South Korea. Are you working with other carriers or does the equipment get shipped by sea to Seoul before?
EV: We have been trying to establish some interline agreements with a number of different carriers. We had success establishing one with Polar Air Cargo (PAO), so we are able to offer the customers to carry their cargo all the way from Houston to Sakhalin under a single Airway Bill.
I am basically aiming to set up a service for our customers in the mining, oil and gas industries, making it possible for them to work with us from their origin to the final destination. Another option we have tried is to establish an interline agreement directly with the Korean carriers but obviously Korean Air (KAL) is just not interested at all. So we will just have to wait.
TJ: Have you evaluated other airplanes before you chose to operate converted 737-400s and when did the decision take place?
EV: We looked at different options. The Boeing 737F turned out to be the best option for us because of the high availability on the market and the low acquisition costs of the airplane. With that being said, the 737 cannot take all the cargo that should be traveling by air into Sakhalin. There are some long or very heavy pieces of cargo that do not fit in the airplane. But close to 92% of the cargo that needs to go air freight can be carried with 737s.
TJ: Are you worried that with so many 737-400s being converted right now you might run into a problem with your fleet strategy later on, given there simply will not be airplanes available anymore for conversion?
EV: I do not think it is a worry yet. Honestly, maybe the situation is going to change, where we will need to turn around and go to lessors already in control of converted 737s as opposed to us going on the market to buy an airplane to convert it ourselves. It is going to depend on the situation and we will have to play it by ear when the situation comes. It will be depending on price and timing. It is true that if we need an airplane to be available quickly, meaning within four to six months from now, we will not have time to go buy an airplane and send it through conversion. We cannot just buy five airplanes just in case.
TJ: Were there any challengers on getting the licensing or was that straight forward?
EV: No, the process was according to the Korea Ministry of Transport regulations. There were a number of items and tasks to fulfill which were done. The Air Operator Certificate (AOC) was awarded to Air Incheon (ICH) as planned by the (MoT) without major problems.
TJ: You also operate in the express market between Korea and Japan. Is it your side business to keep the airplane busy or did you purposely do that from the beginning?
EV: It is a little bit of both. Our business model is really oriented towards the Sakhalin projects. We have opportunities to fly to Japan in the evenings or to fly to China early in the mornings so we do it. We have the airplanes and we have the flight crews (FC) so there is no reason why not to get into that market. With that being said, we are always concentrating on the oil and gas projects as our basis, but it takes a long time to get the traffic rights. We already have traffic rights for Russia of course. The next step is to be able to go to Mongolia. There is a big potential to fly cargo to the mines.
TJ: Where do you see Air Incheon (ICH) in two or three years? You obviously want to go into Mongolia, but are there any other steps that you have ahead?
EV: The expansion depends on what is going on with China. The Chinese carriers are expanding very quickly outside of China as well, so we have to look at how to continue in that market, and under what conditions. Other development areas include Central Asia and South East Asia (possibly requiring larger airplanes like the 757F) and we are also still looking at Japan as a very high potential market.
TJ: Thank you for the interview!