Astral Aviation selects Sharjah Airport as Middle East hub

By Rachelle Harry

Kenya-headquartered freighter operator Astral Aviation has selected Sharjah Airport as its Middle East hub as it expands its operations in the region.

The hub, chosen for its “strategic location” — as well as its facilities for general cargo, perishables and pharma handling — is the Astral’s third. The carrier also has its headquarters in Nairobi and a Europe base in Liege.

Astral Aviation is operating two flights per week from Nairobi to Sharjah, using Boeing 767 freighter aircraft.

Sanjeev Gadhia, founder and chief executive of Astral Aviation, said: “We are truly honored to enter into an agreement with Sharjah Airport which will become Astral’s Middle Eastern Hub, and its third global hub after Nairobi, Kenya and Liege, Belgium”.

He added: “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 Chin and the UAE will be moved from Sharjah to Nairobi for onward connection to Astral’s intra-African network.

“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.”

Ali Salim Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority, added: “Sharjah Airport continues to attract new airlines and routes, such as Astral Aviation, which cements our leading position as an international hub for freight.

“Agreements such as this also confirm our commitment to providing the highest international standards and practices for the air cargo sector through specialised warehousing, which has obtained CEIV accreditation from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). We look forward to employing our full logistical capabilities and working with Astral Aviation to ship Covid-19 vaccines from China to the African continent in an efficient and smooth manner.”

Al Midfa added: “The advanced infrastructure provided by the airport, and the support air freight systems that connect the cargo center to all international destinations, constitute a qualitative addition, especially since Sharjah Airport has proven its efficiency and ability to quickly respond to cargo operations that need special attention in terms of handling, shipping and storage.”

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