Monday, June 17, 2024
Bridging Africa and Abu Dhabi

Bridging Africa and Abu Dhabi

Looking to foster economic growth in both the UAE and Africa, Etihad Cargo and Astral Aviation inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Abu Dhabi to build on the opportunity in the busy trade lane. 

Africa exports perishables into the Middle East, mainly comprised of flowers, fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, while it imports consumer goods and e-commerce, consolidated from China and SE Asia.

“This win-win partnership will enhance the flow of Perishables from Kenya and South Africa into Etihad Cargo’s Abu Dhabi Hub and onwards to the Etihad network, as well as increasing the capacity for Etihad’s partners to feed into Astral’s African network on the return route,” Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO at Astral Aviation, explained.

“Together, Etihad Cargo and Astral Aviation will offer air cargo solutions that cater to the dynamic needs of partners and customers, especially in the fast-growing African market,” Stanislas Brun, Vice President Cargo at Etihad Cargo, added.

READ: Capitalising on India’s growing airfreight market

Strengthening trade 

The scheduled flight into the Abu Dhabi hub and into Etihad’s global network will result in new opportunities for Africa’s Perishables exports.

Bolstering relations between the two regions, the new flight will move goods from the Astral hubs in Nairobi and Johannesburg into the UAE, while the return will carry goods from Etihad’s side from Asia, the USA and Europe into Africa, resulting in new opportunities for both airline’s customers.

“We have 45 interline agreements and partnerships which are based on bilateral relationships that enable our partners to access our network without any restrictions,” Gadhia highlighted.

“Airfreight volumes from Africa and the Middle East are based on a 70-30 split between Belly and Main Deck, which has resulted in lower yields to regions such as Kenya and South Africa.

“The increase in trade will result in improved volumes, which will require additional main deck capacity.”

READ: Africa’s growing potential

Timely developments

Expanding cargo operations to and from Zayed International Airport is a key component of Etihad Cargo and the UAE’s plan to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position as an airfreight hub.

The partnership also comes after Etihad Cargo launched its new cool chain facility, doubling capacity at the airport as part of the wider ambition to expand operations in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector. This proved successful, with the airline marking a 37% increase in pharmaceutical shipments in 2023, compared with 2022.

“Teaming up with Etihad Cargo now is very beneficial, with excellent timing due to these developments, which will result in greater efficiency for our clients,” Gadhia outlined.

“From state-of-the-art cooling facilities capable of safely transporting temperature-controlled goods and pharmaceuticals, to a significant increase in operational capacity, Zayed International Airport is helping to foster greater trade between Abu Dhabi and the world,” Wilson Chan, Senior Vice President – Freezone Cargo & Logistics of Abu Dhabi Airports, said.

“This inaugural flight, and the commencement of weekly flights to Nairobi, is further evidence of the important commercial and business ties Abu Dhabi Airports, and our partners Etihad Airways and Astral Aviation, are helping to facilitate.”

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on


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