African Regional Carriers Add Capacity

There’s no doubt that the African air cargo market is seen as an important one for the foreseeable future. Despite many local government restrictions, the number of all-cargo operators to this vast continent has gradually increased in the past years. And continues doing so.

Boeing 727F operated by Astral Aviation  -  courtesy carrier
Boeing 727F operated by Astral Aviation - courtesy carrier

Carriers come and go, but it seems that local regional airlines with medium and small sized aircraft are increasing or expanding.
There has been a distinct lack of regional cargo carrying capacity throughout Africa in the past.
Airlines such as Ethiopian for example have been doing quite some work during the past couple of years to establish inner-Africa transit / transfer possibilities.

CargoForwarder Global has reported in past issues on new and expanding regional carriers in Africa.
Three carriers report new additions or shareholdings to their fleets during the past few weeks.

Astral Aviation
The Nairobi, Kenya-based airline which originally was offering freighter services from Jomo Kenyatta airport throughout Africa has announced that they’ll take delivery of the first of two Boeing 737-400Fs with the second to follow shortly.
Astral started operations with two ageing DC-9 freighters which were replaced some time ago with more modern MD-83Fs.
It also operates a B747-400F wet leased from Atlas Air as well as a somewhat elderly Fokker 27 and a B727F.
From its Nairobi base Astral flies to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Chad and the Central African Republic.
It is said that it plans also to open hubs in Lagos and Johannesburg.
Reports show that the Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines is to become a shareholder in Astral in the very near future.
A move by one of China’s largest airlines to fix a firmer foothold in Africa.

Comair Limited
The Johannesburg registered carrier which operates a mixed fleet of around 26 Boeing 737 aircraft announced that the Dutch firm HNA Group (Netherlands) will take a 6.2% share in the company taking over the share previously held by Thelo Aviation Consortium, owned by Ronnie Ntuli and  Khutso Mampeule, two South African businessmen.
The agreed price is said to be US$13.1 million
Comair owns a British Airways franchise whereby up to 17 of Comair’s Boeings are operated by BA London. The remaining aircraft mainly operate for Kulula Air to destinations within Africa and recently a new service to St. Helena. Kulula is a low cost carrier set up by Comair.

Air Djibouti
The Djibouti-based start-up cargo carrier commenced operations with a Fokker 27 freighter leased from Astral Aviation (see above Astral article) in late August of this year.
The airline operates solely to Mogadishu and Hargeisa in Somalia.
The carrier states that it plans to expand operations to Juba, South Sudan and Nairobi in the near future
There are big plans in the offing as they announce adding five more aircraft to their fleet for new passenger services to Paris, London Dubai and Mumbai.
These are said to be leased-in B737, B757 and B767 aircraft.

John Mc Donagh

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