Astral Aviation will commence direct cargo service to Mogadishu from its hub at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 14. The all-cargo airline will fly to the capital of Somalia every week on McDonnell Douglas DC9 freighters, which offer up to 15 tonnes of capacity.
According to a press release, the “positive outcome” of the recent London Conference on Somalia and improved security in Mogadishu led to Astral’s decision to fly to the Somali city.
Company CEO Sanjeev Gadhia said Astral is also the first cargo carrier to provide scheduled serve to Mogadishu, which is currently constricted by a lack of cargo capacity on passenger aircraft and ships. Mogadishu will also benefit from Astral’s connectivity to the Middle East, Europe, Asia and South Africa via its freight forwarders, interline partners and general sales agents, Gadhia added.
March 14 won’t be the first time Astral flies to Mogadishu, however. The carrier operated a series of humanitarian flights to the city from August 2011 to January 2012 to assist the victims of the Horn of Africa drought.
“The commodities that were transported to Mogadishu comprised of plumpy nut, high-energy biscuits, tarpaulins, medicines and mosquito nets, which were procured in Kenya and from overseas,” according to a press release issued last summer.
The addition of Mogadishu brings the total number of African destinations served by Astral to six. Other key cites in Astral’s intra-African network include Entebbe, Kigali, Juba, Mwanza and Dar-es-salaam.