stral Aviation is riding on its flexible products and its excellent customer services to remain ahead of the curve as it seeks to take continental lead as attested by consistently being voted the Africa’s best cargo airline.
Over the years, the company has grown from its major hub in Nairobi to set up 3 additional hubs across the world. These include Liege- Belgium, Johannesburg-South Africa, and Dubai – United Arab Emirates.
In the long-run, Astral Aviation intends to expand its network by creating more hubs and increasing its fleet to position the company as the most preferred air logistics provider in the African Continent, according to Sanjeev Gadhia, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Astral Aviation Ltd.
Today, the company boasts of a fleet of over 17 cargo Aircrafts, which include the Boeing 747-400’s, Boeing 767-200’s, Boeing 727-200’s, McDonald Douglas DC9’s, and Fokker 50’s/27’s.
Having acquired Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and Air Service License (ASL) from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) in the year 2001, the company would in 2006 get designation from the Ministry of Transport in Kenya as a cargo airline.
One of the major areas of Astral Aviation’s focus has been humanitarian relief logistics and the firm’s ability to operate in areas where other service providers cannot serve, gives it a huge market advantage.
Today, Astral Aviation also offers a wide range of cargo services on both chartered and scheduled flights that include General Cargo uplift, Pharma Shipments including Covid-19 Medical Items – PPEs, Ventilators, Testing Kits and Vaccines.
It has also played a key role in air lifting perishable goods that includes flowers, vegetables, live, fresh and frozen fish and meat. Other services include express e-commerce cargoes, mining, oil and gas flight, peacekeeping ration, project cargo, consumer goods such as mobile phone, electronics, and excess baggage.
“Astral Aviation’s operating principles revolve around safety of its Aircraft and operations as well as providing reliable and cost-effective airfreight solutions using a combination of schedule and charter flights over its 21 years of existence,” Gadhia said.
To remain afloat in this highly competitive industry, which is as well highly regulated, Astral Aviation, according to Gadhia has maintained its edge by responding to the ever-changing customer needs by providing tailor-made solutions.
Added he; “With a workforce of over 100 employees spread across our worldwide network, the company has hired a highly skilled workforce that ensures the firm delivers on its core mandate of safety and exceptional customer service.”
Airfreight has played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic period, especially with the suspension of passenger flights because of various government restrictions. The air cargo service providers have remained, sometimes, the only lifeline to deliver some of the most urgent products across the world.
However, it has taught the industry of the need to always be agile and create the ability to respond to any changes within our environment, according to Gadhia.
“We have invested in handling Pharma to ensure that we are in line with global standards as well as recruiting and training a high calibre workforce to ensure consistency in our product offering,” he said.
The vaccination being distributed around the world has buoyed industry practitioners both above and below deck. Cargo carriers with climate-controlled facilities have a business opportunity in the worldwide distribution of billions of doses of vaccines.
In the interim, there are opportunities to prepare for the future, according to Glyn Hughes, former head of IATA Cargo and the newly appointed director general of The International Air Cargo Association.
Although the COVID-19 crisis brought a spotlight to air cargo despite the global lockdown, the global pandemic has also highlighted the urgent need for air cargo to speed up its digital and sustainable transformation and develop collaborative business models.
While broadly destructive for aviation, the pandemic has also hastened a global transition to ecommerce to benefit all providers of cargo transportation.
To serve better and remain competitive, there is a need to develop airport infrastructure across the African continent, particularly cold storage facilities. It is interesting that out of the over 400+ airports in the continent; it is only less than 10 that can provide cold storage.
“This has been particularly brought to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic, as vaccine logistics becomes a critical piece to resuming normalcy in our daily lives,” Gadhia said.