Etihad Cargo interlines with Astral and KQ to accelerate vaccine rollout in Africa

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Etihad Cargo has signed a pharma interline agreement – officially named ‘Service Legal Agreement’ (SLA) – with Astral Aviation and Kenya Airways (KQ), which will expand its pharma reach in Africa, as well as providing “reliable and cost-effective” airfreight solutions across the continent.

The agreement comes as the global rollout of coronavirus vaccines continues and it is expected to support Etihad Cargo’s Hope Consortium operations.

Etihad Cargo said it is committed to shipping and storing pharma goods with passive packaging between the temperature ranges: ‘COL’ (2 to 8°C), ‘CRT’ (15 to 25°C) and ‘ERT’ (2 to 25 °C).

The terms of the agreement were outlined by Etihad Cargo for its new partners – Astral Aviation and Kenya Airways – to “boost transparency and make sure pharma-specific documentation, labelling and messaging are used and shared under a precise order and form”.

Under the terms of the agreement, Astral Aviation and Kenya Airways will comply with GDP and IATA Pharma regulations throughout the cool chain.

Martin Drew, senior vice president of sales and cargo at Etihad Aviation Group, commented: “In addition to significantly expanding Etihad Cargo’s reach across Africa, this inter-airline agreement ensures complete adherence to the specific requirements of pharmaceutical product transportation. Customers can be reassured that Etihad Cargo partners will expertly maintain cool chain integrity.”

He added: “The World Health Organisation has recently reported that only 2.5% of African citizens are vaccinated against Covid-19 and that millions more doses are required to meet even modest targets.

“Through Etihad Cargo’s ever-expanding portfolio of partnerships and collaborations, the Hope Consortium can play a greater role in meeting vaccine demand.”

Peter Musola, head of cargo commercial at Kenya Airways, added: “Kenya Airways Cargo is excited to join Etihad Cargo in the HOPE Consortium initiative through providing logistical solutions in our home continent.

“With only 2.5% of the African continent vaccinated against COVID-19, this will go a long way toward achieving the Africa Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) to vaccinate 60% of the population by the end of 2022. This is a fundamental need and pre-requisite toward aviation recovery in Africa.”

Sanjeev Gadhia, chief executive of Astral Aviation, said: “We are honoured to partner with Etihad Cargo and participate in the critical distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to and within Africa. The equitable access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa will be enhanced with the help of partnerships and collaborations within the aviation sector, such as the one enacted between Etihad Cargo and Astral, which will offer one-stop solution for the vaccines to and within Africa.”

Since the pandemic, Etihad Cargo has transported almost 2,500 tonnes of pharmaceuticals to Africa, including 41 dedicated flights on behalf of the United Arab Emirates government.

The carrier currently serves 72 network destinations in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. It’s fleet of 65 aircraft operate 430 weekly rotations, in addition to charter flights, which serve demand at non-network destinations.

Astral aviation serves 15 African destinations out of its Nairobi and Johannesburg hubs with its fleet of 14 freighters.

Both Astral Aviation and Kenya Airways are members of TIACA and Pharma.Aero, whose joint Project Sunrays initiative offers cross-industry collaboration for pharma shippers managing complex vaccine distribution logistics.

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