Nairobi-based cargo operator, Astral Aviation (8V), and ANA Aviation Services have announced a new strategic partnership in Africa following the delivery of a B747-400F (MSN 29261 | N408MC), on wet-lease from ACMI specialists, Atlas Air (5Y), on September 27.
Under the partnership, the B747-400 Freighter will initially operate a twice weekly triangle route from Ostend, southbound to Lagos, Port Harcourt and Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. From there, it will be ferried to Nairobi where it will uplift perishables to London Manston and Ostend.
|ANA’s Chairman, Andy Leslie & |
Astral’s CEO, Sanjeev Gadhia
According to Astral's CEO, Mr Sanjeev Gadhia, ANA Aviation Services, UK and its counterpart, Network Airline Services, have been his operation's GSA in Europe, USA, UAE, India and South Africa, for the past ten years due to their knowledge and experience in Africa.
The B747 venture enables Astral to market perishable exports from Kenya to Europe which, despite rapid growth, is dominated entirely by foreign carriers.
In addition, the B747F will provide inbound capacity for Astral’s shipments in Europe and the USA for onward connectivity to its expanding intra-African network comprising Juba (South Sudan), Pemba (Mozambique), Mogadishu (Somalia), Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Mtwara (Tanzania), Entebbe (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda)
Said ANA Aviation's Chairman Andy Leslie:
"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."
Despite the global slowdown in the air cargo sector and its consequent excess capacity which has resulted in low-growth for the industry, ANA and Astral remain bullish on the prospects of a future increase in both trade and air freight between Europe and Africa. The increase in demand for oil and gas equipment in West Africa combined with the growth in perishables traffic from East Africa to Europe will be the primary focus for the partners as they combine their experience and local knowledge to create a sustainable schedule on the Atlas B747-400F.
October also marks the launch of a code-share flight between Emirates SkyCargo and Astral Aviation on the Johannesburg – Nairobi sector of the former's weekly B777F service. This sector will be marketed by Astral’s newly appointed South African GSA, Network Airline Services, and aims to provide a reliable service for perishables, motor-vehicles, mining and project cargoes for onward connectivity to Astral’s network.