UK ACMI startup Ascend Airways commences revenue operations 

Ascend Airways

Ascend Airways, the UK’s newest airline and part of Dublin-based Avia Solutions Group (ASG) has operated its first revenue flight, marking the start of the newcomer’s commercial operations. On April 26, 2024, the new airline flew its Boeing 737-800 (registered G-HODL) on a flight from London-Southend Airport (SEN) on behalf of fellow ASG company, Chapman Freeborn Airchartering Limited.  

The maiden flight followed the carrier being awarded its Air Operators Certificate (AOC), along with a Type A Operating License and a Route License by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority on April 17, 2024. The company’s AOC provides Ascend with unrestricted access to the UK ACMI and charter market, with the airline operating an initial fleet of two Boeing 737 aircraft in the summer of 2024 but with a view to expanding its fleet in the future.  

Ascend Airways

“We are so pleased to have commenced commercial operations with our first-ever charter, operated on behalf of Chapman Freeborn Airchartering,” said Tony Carder, Commercial Director at Ascend Airways. “This is a landmark day for the company, the start of an exciting journey and we are ready for a busy summer with our damp lease operations commencing in May.”  

“Today’s achievement is something the entire team of dedicated professionals at Ascend Airways can be very proud of and is the fruition of a lot of hard work over the last 9 months. Everyone has played a huge part in making this a reality.” 

Ascend Airways

“It was a great honor and a privilege to work with Ascend Airways on their first-ever charter flight,” said Neil Smith from Chapman Freeborn Airchartering. “Our client was very impressed with the service from start to finish and thanks must go to Alastair Willson and the entire team, and especially the crew, at Ascend Airways for a job well done. It’s great to have another UK operator gracing our skies and we wish them all the best for the future.” 

Since the airline’s maiden flight, both G-HODL along with the carrier’s second aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 registered G-WEAH have been flying services on behalf of fellow UK charter carrier TUI UK from London-Gatwick Airport (LGW). Already, the two aircraft have been seen at airports throughout Europe including Greece, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus, and Morocco all operating under TUI UK’s TOM-prefixed flight numbers.   

Looking ahead beyond the upcoming summer season, the airline is already planning to expand its fleet and extend its services to cover more international routes in the future. Additionally, the carrier is currently developing plans to establish a sister company in Malaysia in the coming twelve months.  

Ascend Airways

As part of ASG, Ascend Airways joins the Group’s expanding portfolio of ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) specialist airlines. ASG currently holds twelve AOCs internationally serving passenger and cargo ACMI businesses. and plans to establish and acquire four additional airlines across various countries by the end of 2024.

Along with Ascend Airways, ASG is the parent company to SmartLynx Airlines, Avion Express, AirExplore, BBN Airlines Indonesia, KlasJet, Magma Aviation, Skytrans, and other AOCs and aviation business entities involved in aircraft repair, pilot and crew training, and ground handling solutions. The Group currently operates a combined fleet of 212 aircraft, making it the world’s largest ACMI service company group. 

On May 13, 2024, the Group announced that another of its new startup airlines, Avion Express Brasil had entered Phase 3 of the certification process for the acquisition of its AOC in Brazil. The carrier hopes to complete the certification process and begin operations in late 2024.   

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