Silk Way West Airlines of Azerabaijan, and Japan Airlines Cargo (JAL)  have signed a cooperation agreement towards covering freighter capacity between Japan and Europe. The partnership will enable JAL Cargo to employ the cargo capacity on the Azerbaijani carrier’s Boeing 717 freighters and operate in scheduled routes to and from Europe and Japan.

This effort will benefit JAL in helping restore some of their cargo capacity. While it presently has an all-Boeing fleet of 163 passenger aircraft, it has not used a dedicated freighter since it terminated the overall service in 2010 due to bankruptcy – relying instead on limited spaces available on its passenger aircraft. The deal with Silk Way will also seek to expand beyond their initial capacity into more extensive schedules.

“Having this kind of positive communication is pleasing JAL and we welcome more capacity, especially via the use of Silk Way West’s Boeing 747-8F aircraft within our network,” says Hiroo Iwakoshi , board member and executive officer of cargo and mail at JAL.

On the other side,  Silk Air currently deploys a fleet of seven B747 freighters—out of which five are brand new 747-8Fs. Two more 747-8Fs were employed in late 2017 that hold an as of yet unconfirmed delivery date. The deal will allow JAL to use some of these formidable Silk Way freighters to connect to Europe. In fact, Silky Way itself has also operated cargo flights to Japan for over two years. Silky Way’s president and CEO Wolfgang Meier calls the agreement a “quantum leap”, and states that it will further increase the company’s presence in Japan.

“We are delighted and honoured to enter into this co-operation with JAL Cargo. It perfectly fits into the growth strategy that we are pursuing in reference to our footprint in Japan,” says Meier. “Right from the start of our Japan services more than two years ago, we have always been eager to increase our exposure. I am happy that both carriers will benefit from this agreement.” he adds.

Silky Way is also known for previously entering into a similar agreement with Malaysian Airlines Cargo, who were also using passenger aircraft for their cargo services at the time.