Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mystery Prop Update: Transafrik

In our last mystery-aircraft post, we were looking into the affairs of a firm called Transafrik, which operates 11 of CIA frontco Southern Air Transport's Hercules aircraft in Angola and holds UN contracts in various places. TA was based in Sao Tome for years, and I recently discovered that a Swiss merchant named Hellinger started it, but he sold up in 1993 or 1994. The biggest shareholder now is some strangelet entity called International Aircraft Management and Consulting. Well, the only Google result for that is on the TA website, but International Aircraft Management Consulting Ltd. apparently exists or existed in the Anglo-Caribbean taxdodger elysium known as the Turks and Caicos Islands, at 107 Duke Street, presumably in the capital Cockburn Town. It seems to have existed in 1994 (i.e. when Hellinger sold Transafrik).

At the time, Viktor Bout had a lucrative operation flying fuel to locations in Angola, both for the government and also for UNITA. Transafrik is described in a French TV documentary (thanks Cargodog!) as doing the same, on contract with Angolan state oil (Sonangol). Graft fans will remember Sonangol as being at the heart of the Elf-Aquitaine scandal, Angolan department, in which Elf was paying huge bribes to Angolan politicians in order to get their signatures on a contract with Sonangol to develop the country's oilfields. Further to that, the French government (the owner of Elf) was supplying arms from the ZTS Osos arsenal in Slovakia to the Angolan government via a state company, Sofremi, for which Charles Pasqua was responsible, and the arms dealers Arkadi Gaydamak and Pierre Falcone. Interestingly, the documentarists describe Transafrik as operating Boeing 707s - but no such aircraft has ever been registered to them.

However, informed sources in Angola say Transafrik served the MPLA side, and hence the government. The 707 may be a mistake, of course. 727s are present in their fleet, and the documentarist might have mistaken one of their DC8s for a 707. Possibly, the Transafrik they reported on was Trans African?

But the first time I ever heard of Viktor was in connection with Boeing 707 tankers in Angola. And can anyone tell me what on earth S9-BOP, Lockheed L-100 serial no. 4477, was doing getting itself destroyed in Luzamba, Angola whilst apparently wearing a Kazakh registration, UN-485, two months after arriving at Transafrik? Apart from delivering diesel fuel, that is. It wouldn't have surprised the plane any, though, as whilst it was with SAT it got photographed in Germany wearing "Alaska International" colours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

S9-BOP was in fact ZS-RSD (Safir), the UN-485 was a temp registration used by TRANSAFRIK. Safair is registered in South Africa and was acquired by Imperial Holdings back in what well..interestingly enough. CIA (yes the Langley one) aircraft Tail N4557C (L100-30 serial 5027) used to be ZS-JAG which is Safair..interesting how these guys always seem to have crossing paths.

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