Dubai: Astral Aviation, a Kenya-based cargo airline, has begun operating flights to Sharjah Airport from its hub in Nairobi. The carrier is running two flights per week on the route using Boeing 767 aircraft.
Sharjah Airport was picked due to its “strategic location”, as well as services such as handling shipments which require specific temperatures and include food products, in addition to the storage and handling of medicinal and health products, the company said in a statement.
“Sharjah Airport continues to attract new airlines and routes, such as Astral Aviation, which cements our leading position as an international hub for freight,” said Ali Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority.
First Middle East hub
With the addition of this route, Sharjah Airport has become Astral’s first aviation hub in the region.
“We will provide a scheduled service for perishables from East Africa to Sharjah for the UAE region, while on the return, Astral’s consolidations from China and UAE will be moved from Sharjah to Nairobi for onward connection to Astral’s intra-African network,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, founder and CEO of Astral Aviation said.
“The introduction of the new freighter service between Kenya and UAE will result in an increase in trade and new opportunities between the private sector with direct connectivity which will benefit both countries,” he added.
Cargo is the way
The cargo business has done relatively better for aviation industry players since the beginning of the pandemic.
Many carriers are using grounded passenger jets to carry life-saving medical supplies, food and more recently, COVID-19 vaccines.
“For many airlines, 2020 saw air cargo become a vital source of revenues, despite weakened demand – air cargo is surviving the crisis in better shape than the passenger side of the business,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a statement earlier this month.