Nairobi, Kenya-based Astral Aviation just inked a deal to operate two of Embraer’s new E190 P2F conversions, while Addis Ababa-headquartered Ethiopian Airlines has signed a contract with
Canadian Aircraft manufacturer, De Havilland, for two Dash 8-400 freighter aircraft. The agreement includes options for two structurally identical turboprops. For both African airlines, the
smaller freighters complement the fleets of their larger all-cargo aircraft and will serve to enhance intra-continental connectivity on regional routes.
At the recent AFCAC Plenary Session, held 14-15JUL22 in Saly, Senegal, several speakers lamented that intra-African air connectivity was underdeveloped compared to other markets. This shortcoming affects passenger services, but above all freight traffic. Thanks to Astral Aviation and Ethiopian Airlines, the situation could ease somewhat. Both airlines have decided to deploy smaller freighters to serve local markets, complementing their intercontinental routes.
After signing the deal with Dublin-based lessor, Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC), Sanjeev Gadhia, Founder & CEO Astral Aviation, stated: “We are honored to be the launch operator of the Embraer 190F, which will be based in our Nairobi hub. It will operate on a combination of scheduled and charter flights on our intra-African network.” The proprietor of one of Africa’s leading and fast expanding freighter airlines went on to say: “Embraer’s E-Jets are well known for their efficiency, flexibility, and sustainability. We are confident that the E-Jet freighter platform will be a game-changing addition to our growing fleet. We are grateful to NAC and Embraer for choosing Astral to be the launch operator of the E-Jet Freighter.”
In his reply, Norman C.T. Liu, President and CEO of NAC, said “As a launch lessor for the E-Jet freighter conversion program, we are pleased to have executed a MoU to place two E190F aircraft with Astral Aviation. NAC aims to remain the leader in regional aviation and expand into larger narrow body aircraft, while building our full life cycle asset management capabilities.”
According to Brazilian plane maker, Embraer, the E190F is able to uplift a payload of 10.7 tons, while its slightly larger sister model, the E195F, can transport up to 12.3 tons per flight. Both will be equipped with a large cargo door in the forward section of the fuselage, to allow the loading of containers and voluminous items. The P2F conversion will be performed at Embraer’s facilities in São José dos Campos, Brazil.
ET purchased two Dash 8-400 freighters
Almost at the same time as Astral, Ethiopian Airlines purchased 2 Dash 8-400 freighter aircraft. The deal includes an option for two additional 8-400F, each equipped with a large cargo door. “Air freight has played a pivotal role in Ethiopian Airlines’ operations over the past couple of years and will remain a key growth pillar of our business over the coming years,” said Mesfin Tasew, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines Group. “The pandemic and subsequent recovery efforts have given rise to significant opportunities in the cargo space, and we see great value in converting our older Dash 8-400 fleet to freighters to capitalize on these growing opportunities,” the executive stated.
“Ethiopian’s proposal with De Havilland Canada is a superb testament to the versatility of the Dash 8-400 aircraft to satisfy a wide variety of operational requirements,” said Philippe
Poutissou, VP, Customer Experience, De Havilland Canada. “This conversion capability will support Ethiopian’s fleet needs and can be offered to other Dash 8 aircraft operators in Africa and
neighboring regions as an additional choice to the conversions De Havilland Canada can perform in Canada or through our Mobile Repair Team.”
In addition to the freighter with Large Cargo Door (F-LCD) as now ordered by Ethiopian, De Havilland offers the market Quick Change (QC) and Package Freighter (PF) retrofits of their Dash 8-400 model (for specifics please click here).
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