Connected: Aerocom, Jet Line and Air Mero

Years ago, when I photographed some of Victor Bout's planes and found them unlisted in any official register, I became intrigued by his movements (his airline operations moving from one country to another) and added page after page with information. These days the information comes to me because I have this "dossier" on my website. And while the companies on this page are not directly involved or run by Mr Bout, their ways of operations seem similar, operating both legally as well as, let us say, suspect flights.
During Jan.2005 I received the following information:

A company called Chapman Freebourne has a subcontract with KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. ) to fly passengers for KBR and other Western Contracting entities into and around Iraq.

Chapman Freeborn is merely a broker and they subcontracted the work to Aerocom. Aerocom is a suspected Victor Bout Company as you are aware. Aerocom was flying un-registered aircraft between August and November 2004, when the planes were switched to a company called Jetline International - you also know the apparent connection between Jetline International and Victor Bout. Check out the link between Aerocom and Jet line - their contact details are exactly the same address/telephone & fax numbers etc.
[Check comment at bottom of page regarding Chapman Freeborn - webmaster]

ER-AFB Antonov-24

Aerocom (and I believe Jet Line) also fly/are flying planes for KBR under the name Air Mero. See attached photo of current Air Mero Antonov An-24 aircraft (registered ER-AFB) being used for passenger services for KBR.
Prefix ER- refers to Moldova. Company titles seem conspicuously absent, though this is in itself not rare or proof of wrongdoing.
It seems that this An-24 ER-AFB (c/n 87310810.2) has been destroyed at Fujairah,U.A.E. in July 2003 but apparently it has also been reported repaired by Oct.2003. (Source: ).

Chapman Freebourne are using the name "Echolines" when they submit flightplans to RAMCC in Qatar for their subcontractor Jetline/Air Mero. No doubt this is to hide the true identity of their plane operator, especially given the circumstances of who is involved in Aerocom/Jetline/Air Mero !!
RAMCC - Regional Air Movement Control Center coordinates movements of fixed-wing airlift in support of coalition military, humanitarian and commercial air operations throughout the Kabul and Baghdad FIRs; by assigning arrival and departure times at selected Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani airfields; and coordinating overflights of Iraq.

Air Mero is a KBR name for the services provided by Chapman Freeborn and they use the name "Echolines" when they submit flightplan documents to RAMCC in Qatar. But why would they use yet another name, one could think the various names function as a smokescreen.

I searched for details of Jet Line and came across Jet Line Air Cargo:
This company is based in Yerevan, Armenia
adress: (Yerevan) Saryan St. #15,
Tel: 58 06 40
There is also an adress in the USA:
Physical Address: 307 East Beach Avenue, Inglewood, California 90302
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 90565, Los Angeles, California 90009
Local Telephone: (310) 419-7404
They have been asked to comment on this page.

But Jetline International or Jet Line Airlines is based in Kiev, Ukraine. Their agent in the UK had a profile of Jet Line Airlines on their website, but their representation ceased in 2005.
The text of that particular profile read: "Jet Line Airlines was initially set up as a broker in 1997, but by 1999 had become an airline with its own fleet of IL-76 and An-26 aircraft.
The aircraft are available for charters and / or lease contracts throughout the world."

During April 2005 I received the following update on this company:
Jet Line International is the holder of the Air Operating Certificate, and they seem to be happy to let some pretty doubtful companies use it. For example, I think some of the Aerocom aircraft are starting to operate with it (Aerocom did not get its permits renewed this year, so I think they have stopped operating); and also you should do some research about Artic Group, of Moscow.
Jet Line International have the following aircraft listed on their Operating Certificate (2004)--
An-12: ER-ACI
But in fact they only own the following aircraft:
All the others are operated for other companies and Jet Line have no control over these other aircraft nor know where they go or what they carry....
Artic Group details are-- Vladimir Voroshnin, Denis Kryvtsov, Valeriy Krivtsov +380-44-249-4365
they claim to own--
An-12: ER-AXK
These are their aircraft on
This was published on (Classifieds - Air Transport) :
AN-12 AVAILABLE we can provide An-12 with TCAS and EU permit for charter. pls via email. thank you. Contact Sergey V. CH - ARTIC GROUP located Kiev, Ukraine Telephone: 380 44 248 4851 Fax: 380 44 249 4049 Posted April 13, 2005
In June 2004 the website of Artic went down and stayed offline, never to reappear (time of writing Dec.2005). Gone. Why? The identity of the plane was never revealed.

This is a quote from "Aerocom, named in U.N. reports and a DEA report on flying drugs into Belize. Aerocom lost its Moldovan Air Operator's Certificate in June 2004, but continues to operate. In Moldova, Aerocom shares an address and phone number with Jet Line International, a publicly identified Bout company."
Here is written proof of the AOC withdrawal by the Civil Air Administration of Moldova.

JP Airline Fleets (edition 2003/4) has the following adress for Aerocom: Chisinau Airport, MD-2026 Chisinau, Moldava (tel: [2] 52 95 60 email ). The fleet includes Antonov An-12s, An-24s, An-26s and Ilyushin IL-76s. Their fleet include the same types as said to be operated by Jet Line.
I have not been able to find their website (if they have one).

Chapman Freebourne subcontracted their KBR air passenger services to Aero Com in August 2004 through November 2004. KBR was advised of this situation in November and within one week, Aero Com was replaced by Jet Lines. The two companies have exactly the same address, phone and fax numbers. The aircraft call signs being used by Jet lines are exactly the same as Aero Com's plane. As far as we can tell, Jet lines (KBR nomenclature for this flight service is Air Mero) are still flying for KBR (Jan. 2005).

Another source provided the following comment:
As for the connection between Aerocom and Jet Line, they tell me that they share the same office building, but that's all. My records show completely different numbers---
Aerocom; Tel: 00380-44-574-5354 Fax: 44-574-5355
Jet Line; Tel: 00380-44-250-9263 Fax: 44-250-9284
These are numbers in the Ukraine. If these companies are the same, clearly an effort has been made to appear operating seperately.

The following document shows Aerocom and Jet Line Int'l share the same adress in Moldova; look for page 2. The adress for both is 129, 31st August Str. MD-2008 Chisinau, Rep. of Moldova. Tel.: +373 2 52-36-70.
So in both countries they seem to favor each others company: in itself not suspect or illegal, there may be a viable economic reason for this.
But I hate it when companies don't wear their company titles on their planes, like if they have something to hide....

During July 2007 I came across this newsbit: Being fully responsible for guaranteeing execution of European safety standards, the CAA of the Republic of Moldova has revoked Air Operator Certificates of eight Moldovan air carriers operating cargo flights: Aeronord group, Aeroportul International Marculesti, Grixona, Jet Line International, Jet Stream, Pecotox-Air, Tiramavia and Valan International Carge Charter.
See EU-letter (pdf file).
This is from the Moldovan CAA website (press release dated 25.06.2007):
"..the Civil Aviation Administration has informed the European Commission about the publication of Order ? 102/GEN from June 21, 2007 regarding revocations of seven Air Operator Certificates, of air carriers operating cargo flights outside of the Republic of Moldova."

Antonov An-26 ER-AZR was reportedly visiting Coventry,UK on 04Jan05, operating for Jetline Aviation.

From another source:
"About connections between Boutt and Jet Line, there are planes in the Jet Line (Moldova) fleet that have a common ground (Centrafrican airlines plane). Another interesting thing is that Jetline International (that one based in Equatorial Guinea and UAE) operates planes from Air Bass (also, the BAC-111 3C-QRF named in the UN report S/2004/551, July 15, 2004). The two companies have e-mails very similar (and both did not answer my e-mails). "
On May26, 2005 I received information that Iraqi CAA had issued a memo that day, requiring all operators to resubmit their aircraft papers, certificates, AOC, etc. This could be a clean up to oust all blacklisted operators.
The distribution list was much smaller than before, but.... Air Bas was still on it!
Chapman, Jetlines, Aerocom and East West were removed from the distribution list.
Earlier I was informed Air Mero (in Kuwait) had suspended operations. No aircraft have worn these titles and I have no details on individual aircraft operating under this callsign; Chapman Freeborne has been mentioned as connected to this project.

The website has a news section. The entry for 15 June 2005 reads thus:
"Jetline International have re-registered two of their aircraft. VP-CJL becomes YR-CJL while P4-JLB is now HR-ATS and more importantly has been given stage three hushkits on its two Spey engines! This is the first series 475 to have been given the kit. I believe that it was carried out at Baneasa. The company appears to have changed its name to JetEx Flight Support / Mia Airlines." As Jetline International has been previously identified by Douglas Farah as a Bout company, this would indicate that Viktor Bout may be changing the firm's name to do away with the tarnished brand.

When I checked Aerotransport Database in dec.2005, I found former Aerocom IL-76s, ER-IBE and ER-IBV, both active with Jetline Int'l.

© Piotr Obleg
click for a large image on
© Tomislav Muic
click for a large image on

During April 2006 I received following comments from Russi Batliwala:
"Chapman Freeborn is a well respected aviation broking company with offices worldwide established in 1973. Chapman Freeborn does not conduct business with any company that does not have licensed aircraft, crews and or insurance. Our clients are global organizations that rely on our experience to offer air charter solutions for all types of aircraft around the world. We do not conduct business with any companies with proven links to Victor Bout nor do we charter aircraft for the transportation of any persons or goods that could be deemed illegal."
Russi Batliwala
Group Cargo Director

I came across this photo in book called "Triumph over Turbulence" by Jim Magoffin, founder and longtime CEO of Interior Airways (later renamed Alaska International Air and later again Markair).
Jim looked for business in Africa when economics in Alaska were lean and Chapman & Freeborn assisted in securing contracts for him. This was in the 1970s.
The fact that this company is still in business must account for something.

Back to Victor Bout's file

Created: 04-02-05
Last updated 17.7.2007