Israel, UAE Sign Deal to Build Aircraft Site in Abu Dhabi

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed an agreement with Etihad Engineering to build a facility in Abu Dhabi that will convert passenger aircrafts into cargo planes, according to Reuters.

Demand for cargo jets has increased steadily as e-commerce has became the dominant means of shopping and the dip in airplane prices over the pandemic made them more easily accessible for companies to purchase.

The facility will be certified by the UAE Civil Aviation Authority, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

“Not only do we see the demand, but we view it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for our airline customers, and an excellent way to drive value for our business,” Tony Douglas, chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, said in a statement.

The deal comes roughly a year after Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed the Abraham Accords. Both countries have experienced a rapid flourishing of business ties.

Yossi Melamed, head of IAI’s Aviation Group, said the deal is a “significant tier to the relations between Israel and the Gulf States” and that “additional agreements with companies in the region will arrive, and they will economically benefit all sides involved.”

IAI converts Boeing 737, 747 and 767 passenger aircraft for cargo use, and is developing a conversion system for the Boeing 777 for 2023. They operate several cargo-conversion sites, including one at its headquarters at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv.

Etihad Engineering is one of the largest commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul providers in the Middle East, and its center with the IAI in Abu Dhabi is expected be the largest in the Middle East.