Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways, in partnership with Astral Aviation, a leading cargo airline with African coverage, completed the inaugural flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on March 21, 2024.

The flight marked the commencement of a collaboration following the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two carriers, aimed at expanding Etihad Cargo's reach into the African market, says a release from Etihad Cargo.

"The inaugural flight was timed to accommodate the increased demand for flowers, demonstrating the synergy between Etihad Cargo's global reach and Astral Aviation's strong African network. The successful operation underscored the partnership's potential to enhance cargo capacity and offer efficient logistics solutions, particularly for time-sensitive shipments such as perishable goods."

Etihad Cargo and Astral Aviation have committed to leveraging their combined networks, expertise and logistics capabilities to enhance cargo services between the UAE and Africa. Astral Aviation will resume weekly operations from Abu Dhabi starting March 28, 2024, the release added.

"The partnership between Etihad Cargo and Astral Aviation marks a significant milestone in trade between Africa and Abu Dhabi as the new flight will enable the efficient transportation of perishables including flowers, fresh fruits, vegetables and meat from Astral's hubs in Nairobi and Johannesburg into Etihad's Abu Dhabi hub and onto their network," says Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO, Astral Aviation. "On the return, the freighter will carry cargo from Etihad Cargo's network in Asia, the USA and Europe into Astral's intra African network, which will result in new opportunities for our clients."

Stanislas Brun, Vice President, Cargo, Etihad Cargo adds: "The successful inaugural flight from Nairobi to Abu Dhabi is just the beginning of Etihad Cargo's ambitious journey with Astral Aviation. Together, Etihad Cargo and Astral Aviation will offer air cargo solutions that cater to the dynamic needs of partners and customers, especially in the fast-growing African market."

Etihad Cargo will also provide additional belly capacity to its partners and customers via daily passenger flights to Nairobi from May 1, 2024. Etihad Cargo also operates a weekly freighter service that connects Nairobi to Amsterdam via the carrier's Abu Dhabi hub, the release added.

Wilson Chan, Senior Vice President, Freezone Cargo & Logistics, Abu Dhabi Airports says: "Expanding cargo operations to and from Zayed International Airport is a key component of our plan to ensure Abu Dhabi continues to strengthen its global standing as an air cargo hub. From state-of-the-art cooling facilities capable of safely transporting temperature-controlled goods and pharmaceuticals to a significant increase in operational capacity, Zayed International Airport is helping to foster greater trade between Abu Dhabi and the world. This inaugural flight, and the commencement of weekly flights to Nairobi, is further evidence of the important commercial and business ties Abu Dhabi Airports, and our partners Etihad Airways and Astral Aviation, are helping to facilitate."

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