Sharjah Airport Authority has announced that Kenya-based cargo airline Astral Aviation is set to operate flights to Sharjah in the UAE.

Astral Aviation’s operations expansion in the Middle East will see two flights a week running from Nairobi, Kenya, to Sharjah.

The airport stated that it will become the first cargo centre for the company in the Middle East due to its strategic location and the high-quality services.

Sharjah Airport Authority Chairman Ali Salim Al Midfa said: “Sharjah Airport continues to attract new airlines and routes, such as Astral Aviation, which cement our leading position as an international hub for freight. These agreements 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.

The advanced infrastructure of the airport and the support air freight systems connecting the cargo centre 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.”

Astral Aviation Founder and CEO Sanjeev Gadhia said: “We are truly honoured 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.”

“We will provide a scheduled service for perishables from East Africa to Sharjah for the UAE region, while, in return, Astral’s consolidations from China 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 the UAE will result in a trade increase and new opportunities in the private sector with direct connectivity which will benefit both countries.”

The storage and handling unit of medicinal products at the airport’s cargo centre needs to monitor thermal variations and continuous temperature control from aircraft unloading to final delivery.

Importing companies are required to function under a set line of procedures and regulations to uphold the quality of medicinal products for human health and safety.

As one of the largest private cargo companies in Africa, Astral Aviation has around 14 cargo aircraft and is planning to increase its fleet to 20 by the end of the year.

On a similar note, Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) has partnered with global software company SAP to facilitate the digital transformation of Bahrain’s aviation market post-Covid-19.

Founded in 1977, BAS provides fully integrated airport services at Bahrain International Airport.