December 10, 2019: As part of the Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-23, Kenya-based Astral Aviation with UNICEF Yemen has operated a humanitarian flight from Nairobi to Sanaa International Airport in Yemen via Djibouti using a Fokker 27. More than 4.5 tonnes of the oral polio vaccines arrived will be used to vaccinate around 4.5 million children under 5 years of age in the coming national polio campaign in Yemen.

Commenting on the sensitive nature of such shipments handled, Sanjeev S Gadhia, founder and CEO of Astral Aviation, said, "Indeed our charter desk is responsible for coordinating all the aspects of this charter from inception to execution which takes 14 days of planning due to the sensitive nature of the region which we are flying into."

The carrier became the first aircraft to land at Sanaa airport in 2017 after the Saudi-led coalition lifted a three-week blockade. It operated B727-200 freighter with 15 tonnes of vaccines for over 600,000 children on behalf of Chapman Freeborn and UNICEF.

Astral Aviation has operated in excess of 180 humanitarian charters into Yemen in the past 2 years for various organisations and has uplifted in excess of 2,000 tonnes of relief cargoes comprising of vaccines and pharma in addition to food and shelter items.

In 2020, Astral plans to add two B757F into its fleet which will also provide an uplift of 30 tonnes for Yemen in addition to other routes that will include UAE.

Speaking on 2020 outlook for air cargo industry, "We remain optimistic for the growth of air cargo to, from and within Africa which will experience growth in excess of 10 percent in 2020. The increase in trade following the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will result in new opportunities for intra-African connectivity," Gadhia concluded.

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