The new schedule is based on a cautious expansion strategy to increase connectivity from Astral’s Nairobi hub to the East African region.
Operating a fleet of DC9s and a B727 freighter, Astral has increased the frequency on its prime Juba, South Sudan route from three to four weekly flights. That makes the capacity on the route 60 tonnes per week.
Sanjeev Gadhia, Astral’s CEO, said the resumption of oil exports by South Sudan has resulted in an increase in traffic into Juba.
Astral has also added three new routes from its Nairobi hub into Pemba, Mozambique and Moroni, Comoros. The Pemba route creates opportunities in gas field equipment, while the Moroni route will transport personal effects, perishables and general cargo.
Astral’s existing routes include Mwanza, Tanzania; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Entebbe, Uganda; Kigali, Rwanda and Mogadishu, Somalia.
In September, Astral will induct its first MD83 into conversion at Aeronautical Engineers, Inc.’s facility in Miami. The aircraft will be operational in January 2014. Two more MD83s will be lined up for conversion in 2014.