Nairobi-based Astral Aviation and Network Airline Management (NAM) have signed a long-term wet lease agreement with Air Atlanta Icelandic adding a factory-built, nose-loader B747-400F to NAM’s existing managed fleet of three MD11Fs. This will enable NAM to develop their presence in Africa and Astral to enlarge their capacity, especially the Kenyan perishables market, adding capacity for flowers and vegetables from Nairobi to the UK, the two said.
Andy Leslie, group chairman, says: “We are excited to enter into this agreement with Astral Aviation and Air Atlanta Icelandic and look forward to a long and successful partnership enabling us to further expand our network.”
Sanjeev Gadhia, Astral Aviation founder and CEO, says: “The newly acquired B747-400F from Air Atlanta Icelandic will strengthen our position as a market-leader in perishable exports from Kenya to the UK market. Furthermore, the B747F will feed its intra-African network in Nairobi with cargo, which will be consolidated in its Liege hub originating from Europe and the US.
The B747-400F made its inaugural flight from Stansted (STN) to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on 7 November expanding NAM’s capacity to East Africa. The group expects to handle around 33,000 tonnes of perishable exports from East Africa to Europe per year. The nose-loader B747F will also enable the group to attract out-sized oil, gas and mining equipment for West and East Africa, which is expected to increase following the high oil prices experienced during the past week.
Gadhia adds: “While most foreign carriers are reducing their capacity to Africa, Astral Aviation remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ of positive growth in perishable exports to Europe and a strong south-bound demand from Europe to West and East Africa, fuelled by the growth in consumer demand for e-commerce and oil and gas equipment due to the improved fuel-prices.”
According to IATA, African carriers had the fastest growth in year-on-year freight volumes and growth is set to remain in double digits for the remainder of 2017, according to Gadhia.
Baldvin M. Hermannsson, VP Sales and Marketing, Air Atlanta Icelandic, adds: “We are thrilled to start this new chapter in our wet leasing with our new, highly respected partners, Astral Aviation and NAM, and are pleased that our services and technology will further improve their offerings to the industry.”
Incorporating Network Airline Services, Network Cargo Management and ANA Aviation Services, the Network Aviation Group represents more than 20 airlines, including Astral Aviation, in its capacity as general sales and services agent (GSSA).
The Group’s freighter division, Network Airline Management, has a managed fleet of B747F and MD11F aircraft and handles over 70,000 tonnes of cargo annually offering a variety of sales and services to client airlines, as well as managing a fleet of freighter aircraft on a network of scheduled routes and charters throughout the world.
Astral Aviation is a licensed cargo airline based at the Africa Flight Services Cargo Terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Operating in Africa for over 15 years, Astral Aviation provides airfreight solutions using a combination of schedule and charter flights within its intra-African and European network.
Astral operates a fleet of F27 (five tonnes), DC9 (15 tonnes) and B727-200 (24 tonnes) freighters within its intra-African network, in addition to a wet-leased B747-400 freighter on the Nairobi – London and Liege sector.
Air Atlanta Icelandic is an Icelandic ACMI and charter airline founded in 1986. With a fleet of 16 aircraft in operation around the globe, Air Atlanta Icelandic currently specialises in B747-400 aircraft, both passenger and cargo, while also retaining its A330/A340 operating capabilities.