October 8 - Nairobi, Kenya headquartered airline Astral Aviation and UK based airline general sales agent (GSA) ANA Aviation Services have signed a strategic partnership, following the delivery of a B747-400 freighter from ACMI firm Atlas Air.
The B747-400F will operate on a twice-weekly Ostend, Belgium; Lagos, Nigeria; Port Harcourt, Nigeria; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Nairobi, Kenya, London Manston, UK; Ostend routeing.
The freighter will provide inbound capacity for Astral Aviation's shipments from Europe and the USA for onward connectivity to its intra-African network, as well as offering capacity for over-dimensional and heavy project shipments.
The venture will also enable Astral Aviation to move perishable exports from Kenya to Europe, a market that is currently dominated entirely by foreign carriers.
"We are very excited with this new venture with our long term partner and friend Astral Aviation. The Boeing 747 factory built freighter with nose loading capability means we can offer payloads of up to 120,000 kilos as well as accepting long and oversize pieces giving a new dimension to our business to and from Africa as well as the availability of ad- hoc charter capacity on a worldwide basis," says ANA Aviation chairman, Andy Leslie.
According to an Astral Aviation statement, it takes an optimistic outlook on the air freight prospects between Europe and Africa, despite a global slowdown in the air cargo sector and excess capacity in the market. The increased demand for oil and gas equipment into West Africa, as well as the growth in perishable goods from East Africa to Europe, will be the key markets targeted by the new venture.
October also marks the launch of a codeshare arrangement between Emirates SkyCargo and Astral Aviation. Emirates SkyCargo's weekly B777F service between Johannesburg and Nairobi will be marketed by Astral Aviation's South African GSA, Network Airline Services.
Astral Aviation says it will deliver a reliable service for mining and project cargoes, perishables and motor vehicles for on forwarding through its African network.