Astral Aviation Readies to Perform Vaccine Flights within Africa

Nov. 30, 2020
Astral Aviation has announced that it is ready to support the distribution of the recently discovered COVID-19 vaccines across its scheduled network of destinations within Africa.

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 25, 2020 : Astral Aviation, a member of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) and Pharma.Aero, a powerful cross-industry collaboration for Pharmaceutical Shippers, has announced that it is ready to support the distribution of the recently discovered COVID-19 vaccines across its scheduled network of 15 destinations within Africa and a further 50 destinations available on charters with its fleet of 14 freighter aircrafts. Astral Aviation will offer the ultimate solution for the distribution of vaccines to and within Africa.

According to Astral Aviation chief executive officer, Sanjeev Gadhia, Astral has transported thousands of tonnes of vaccines and pharma products on its fleet in its 20-year existence and has played an important role in various immunization programs in Africa and across the world including supporting efforts to tackle Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the Cholera Pandemic in Yemen.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Astral transported in excess of 15,000 tonnes of PPE, testing kits, ventilators, and related products to over 40 countries in Africa confirms Charles Ngwalla, who recently took on the position of alliances and key accounts manager at Astral Aviation.

With the arrival of the first converted B767-200 freighter in Africa, with a payload of 40 tonnes / 350 cubic meters, which will join Astral’s fleet in January 2021, Astral will offer an on-demand charter service for vaccines to Africa. This will complement Astral's existing regional fleet of Boeing 727 freighters, McDonald Douglas DC-9 freighters, Fokker 50 and Fokker 27 freighters to provide onward delivery to the end-destination from its Nairobi hub, according to Gadhia.

Astral’s home at the ultra-modern Africa Freight Services Terminal, at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, is GDP (Good Distribution Practices) Certified for pharma-handling with capacity of 3,000 m2 of Cold Room facility, ranging from two to eight degrees and up to -20 degrees celsius. Additional capacity of 6,000m2 of cold-room facility is available on the air-side within the freighter-friendly airport according to Astral Chief Operating Officer, Michael Mutahi.

“Astral’s Pharma Product combined with the expertise of its Pharma team provides a reliable service for temperature-sensitive products across the network, which includes a safe re-packing and re-icing service, which will enhance the cool-chain value of vaccines for onward distribution within Africa," according to Alex Muhuyu, ground operations manager at Astral Aviation.

“Initiatives being developed by TIACA and Pharma.Aero, such as Project Sunrays, aim to help the air cargo industry get ready for the future handling, storage, and transportation of COVID-19 vaccines. Being a member of both Associations, Astral will have clarity on the needs and expectations from vaccine producers and share its experiences on the infrastructure constraints of distributing vaccines in Africa," according to Gadhia, who added that the much-anticipated distribution of vaccines from Quarter one of 2021 will require collaboration on a large scale between the vaccine manufacturers and all members of the supply-chain, especially in Africa.