All-cargo carrier Astral Aviation will deploy its first B767-200F on a twice weekly service between Nairobi and Sharjah, UAE, starting 3 February.
The 40-tonne freighter, on lease from ATSG subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management, will offer ‘unrivalled capacity’ for 80 tonnes per week of flowers and vegetables to the UAE and will also be used on the Nairobi–Johannesburg route, which it currently operates on the B727-200F.
“The freighter will also offer capacity on high-priority for the distribution of the Covid vaccine to and within Africa in addition to humanitarian cargo,” the airline added.
During the launch in Nairobi on 22 January, Astral Aviation CEO Sanjeev Gadhia said theB767 freighter will complement the existing fleet by providing new opportunities in the 40-tonne category which was previously underserved in Africa.
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The B767F is ideal for its intra-African network of 15 scheduled destinations and will offer new opportunities to the Middle East, an important gateway for East Africa’s air imports and exports, the company noted.
The freighter’s induction to the Astral fleet marks an important milestone for Kenya’s aviation industry which saw an 8 percent drop in cargo volumes in 2020.
“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,” said Alex Gitari, acting managing director of the Kenya Airports Authority, operator of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO).
In December 2020, Astral Aviation selected Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) as its Middle East hub, in addition to its existing European hub at Liege International Airport (LGG) and Africa hub at NBO, which has 9,000 sqm of cold room facilities.