KENYA – Astral Aviation will deploy its newly acquired B767-200F freighter on the Nairobi – Sharjah route, with effect from February 3, 2021, thus offering unrivalled capacity for 80 tonnes per week of flowers and vegetables to the UAE.

Astral will also upgrade the B767-200F on its Nairobi – Johannesburg route which it currently operates on the B727-200F thus increasing the total capacity to 160 tonnes per week to South Africa.

The freighter will also offer capacity on high-priority for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine to and within Africa in addition to humanitarian cargo.

Marking the launch of the B767F in Nairobi on January 22, 2021, Astral Aviation’s chief executive officer (CEO), Sanjeev Gadhia reiterated that the newly-acquired freighter will complement the existing fleet by providing new opportunities in the 40-tonnes category which was previously underserved in Africa.

The B767F is ideal for Astral’s intra-African network, which comprises 15 scheduled destinations while offering new opportunities to the Middle East, which is an important gateway for East Africa’s air imports and exports.

The cabinet secretary in the ministry of transport, Kenya, James Macharia, congratulated Astral Aviation on its achievement.

The freighter’s induction to the Astral fleet also marks an important milestone for the aviation industry as it recovers from the effects of the pandemic, which led to an 8 percent decline in cargo volumes in 2020 in Kenya.

The cabinet secretary reaffirmed the commitment of his government to invest optimally in the country’s transport system and to maintain Kenya’s position as the transport hub of the region by outlining plans to modernise and expand aviation facilities.

“The newly-acquired freighter will complement the existing fleet by providing new opportunities in the 40-tonnes category which was previously underserved in Africa”

The acting managing director of the Kenya Airports Authority, Alex Gitari complemented Astral Aviation’s stature as the fastest growing cargo airline in the region and reaffirmed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)’s regional cargo hub position.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi has a capacity of 1.2 million tonnes which includes 9,000 square metres of cold room facilities and is the leading cargo hub in Africa.

In addition to reaffirming this strategic positioning, Astral Aviation’s acquisition of the B767-200F is timely in that it enhances JKIA’s cargo capacity and ability to handle transhipments of Covid-19 vaccines whose rollout is expected soon.

In December 2020, Astral Aviation selected Sharjah International Airport as its Middle Eastern hub, in addition to its existing European hub at Liege International Airport in Belgium and its African hub at JKIA in Nairobi, Kenya.

Sharjah International Airport was chosen due to its strategic location as well as the services it provides in accordance with the highest international standards which include facilities to handle temperature-controlled perishable, pharma, and healthcare cargo according to Mr Satvir Kalsi, who was recently appointed as commercial director for UAE, Sharjah International Airport.

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