Astral Aviation is set to be the launch operator of ST Engineering’s A320 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) programme after the latter signed an agreement to lease up to five Airbus A320 cargo conversions to UAE-based lessor group Vaayu.
Cargo airline Astral Aviation, based in Nairobi, Kenya, will be the launch operator for the first two of the five A320P2F aircraft by sub-leasing them from Vaayu.
The first A320P2F, which is being converted by ST Engineering, is expected to be placed on lease in the second quarter, becoming the first A320P2F aircraft to go into operation.
Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO at Astral Aviation, said this is the first Airbus in its fleet of 14 freighters.
“The Airbus range of freighter aircraft are impressive and will add immense value to Astral’s fleet and network expansion, which will result in Astral considering future freighter aircraft acquisitions of the A320, A321, A330-300 and A350,” Gadhia said.
Freighter conversions speciatlist ST Engineering said it will convert and lease the four remaining A320P2F aircraft progressively. Amidst tight capacity and travel curbs, the A320 and A321P2F narrowbody conversions are considered ‘ideal’ solutions for express domestic and regional operations.
Emad Al Monayea, chairman and president of Vaayu Group, commented: “The upside of the pandemic was an increase in sales of e-commerce space. For freighters and cargo handlers worldwide, this was unexpected. We saw this coming. We simply fast-tracked the process; from conception to a reality in this A320P2F programme.”
ST Engineering is showcasing its freighter conversion, leasing and other aerospace capabilities at the Singapore Airshow 2022 from 15–18 February.