Pamodzi signs up Antonov

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Pamodzi Investment Holdings through Pamodzi Aviation has become the sole sales, distribution and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) agent for Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov in Africa in a deal it is hoped will generate more than R7.8 billion in revenue over the next few years. In addition, parts manufacture is contemplated in the medium to long term.

Executive director Kobus du Plooy says the major attraction of the deal lies in the fact that about 200 Antonov aircraft were operated in Africa. “Clearly, the importance of this deal, estimated to generate revenue in excess of $1 billion (about R7.8 billion) over the next couple of years, both for the South African economy and for enabling crucial commercial and military operations in other African countries, cannot be underestimated.”

Pamodzi CE Ndaba Ntsele adds that from “now, Antonov’s military, commercial and private customers will be able to have their aircraft conveniently and cost-effectively maintained on the continent, starting in South Africa”.

Pamodzi Aviation is furthermore “in advanced discussion with South African MRO specialist Denel Aviation as a potential partner in delivering Antonov MRO services in the African continent,” the diversified black-controlled investment house said in a statement. Some of Pamodzi’s other interest are in food services and uranium mining. Denel Aviation CE Mike Kgobe says “the current discussion with Pamodzi Aviation has the potential of expanding the current Denel Aviation portfolio of products and services and is aligned to the Denel Aviation growth strategy”.
Antonov’s African growth strategy

The main partnership, signed in February but only announced Wednesday, will see Antonov dramatically increase its presence on the continent “in line with their global strategy”. Antonov was founded in 1946 and has to date designed more than one hundred aircraft, including the AN-225 “Mriya” freighter, the biggest transport aircraft in the world. Antonov aircraft are holders of more than 500 world records. Pamodzi says the characteristic advantages of Antonov aircraft include structural reliability and economic efficiency, flexibility of transport operations, ability to use unpaved airfields and easy maintenance.

The partnership is offering the African market airliners with a passenger capacity ranging from 27 to 80 people on regional and medium-haul air routes. “Their compliance with the most modern airworthiness requirements guarantees safe operation under various climatic and weather conditions. These aircraft are fully equipped to provide passengers and crew with high comfort level. Among them are the AN-148/-158 aeroplanes which are regional jets of a new generation. They are the basis for a series of VIP, cargo and other purpose versions”

Antonov cargo aircraft are certified to haul payloads of between 2.5 and 250 tonnes. Du Plooy says experience shows they have the ability to perform missions which are often beyond the capabilities of other aircraft types. “Featuring space-age engineering, these rugged aircraft are built for tough African conditions,” he adds, referring by way of example to Antonov’s latest military transport aircraft, the AN-70, which has drawn the attention of defense procurement officials across Africa.

Pamodzi says the dimensions of the AN-70 cargo cabin allows it to accommodate “almost all types of military equipment and armament … as well as building machines and vehicles with a total weight of up to 47 tons. Alternatively it can carry 300 fully equipped troops or 206 stretchers. “More important is the fact that the AN-70, which we will be able to service right here in South Africa – is the only aircraft which amongst other great features, is capable of lifting a 20t payload from a waterlogged, unpaved runway just 700m long” says Ntsele. No other military freighter is able to be operated from such short strips.

The partnership notes the AN-70 is currently in production for the Ukrainian Air Force and are available “at a deep discount compared to the price of other aircraft in its class, notably, the Airbus Military A400M Loadmaster.”

They add the AN-124-100 Ruslan heavy transport can be considered the Antonov visiting card. “During more than 20 years it has held unsurpassed leadership in the market for oversized and non-standard cargo airlift.” Companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Loral, Volkswagen, Siemens, and General Electric regularly use the services of the Ruslan. “The wide spectrum of AN-124-100’s abilities was appreciated by countries of the EU and NATO. For more than four years Ruslans have been performing transportation in the interests of 18 NATO countries within the SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) programme,” Pamodzi adds.

Safety record

Ntsele says Antonov’s historic safety record in Africa has not done justice to the quality and advanced engineering of the aircraft. He says the owners’ reluctance to have aircraft properly maintained is the primary reason for aircraft failure where mechanical reasons were cited. “In terms of the agreement, Antonov has undertaken to supply the necessary technicians until such time as South African technicians have been adequately trained and certified to work on its aircraft,” continues Du Plooy. “Training will take place both in the Ukraine and South Africa, with a concerted focus on skills transfer and job creation.”
“In addition, we hope to start manufacturing Antonov spare parts in SA in the medium to long term, after which the manufacture and assembly of Antonov aircraft could be possible,” Du Plooy adds.

The announcement this week comes at the end of a week-long tour of South Africa by Antonov delegation. “We are delighted to have entered into this partnership with Pamodzi Aviation,” said Antonov President and General Designer Dmytro Kyva. “We are also confident that this enduring relationship will enable the Antonov brand to grow in both strength and influence across the continent of Africa.”

Ambassador of Republic of South Africa to Ukraine, Andries Venter says “the Antonov Pamodzi Partnership marks the beginning of a much needed industrial activity interface between Ukraine and South Africa”, while Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of South Africa Valery Hrebeniuk emphasised “the decision to develop the aviation industry jointly was symbolic of the fact that cooperation between Ukraine and South Africa had entered a new phase. This important project is mutually beneficial from the economic point of view, and also opens wide possibilities for cooperation in the field of high-tech”.