Astral Aviation’s inaugural flight from India to Yemen
- Nearly 20 tonnes of vaccines were transported for UNICEF and the EPI MOPH.
- On the way back, the route is via Djibouti to Sanaa.
April 20, 2021: Today at 12:30 p.m. GMT, Astral Aviation took off its maiden flight from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India to Sanaa International Airport, Yemen with three different vaccine shipments. The plane loaded with 19.5 tonnes of vaccine came from the Serum Institute of India.
The Nairobi-based airline’s B727-200F has received authorization from the General Directorate of Civil Aviation of India (DGCA) to carry vaccines for UNICEF (approximately 4 tonnes) and the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI ) MOPH (over 15 tonnes) in collaboration with Kuehne Nagel. Ground handling was performed by Celebi Aviation.
On March 31, Astral transported 360,000 doses of vaccine to Aden via Nairobi. The shipment was handled by Air India from Mumbai to Nairobi.
Commenting on the inaugural flight, Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO and Founder of Astral Aviation, said: “Astral has never operated flights to and from India served by interline partners. During the pandemic, due to the lack of direct capacity and connectivity between India and Africa, Astral received a number of requests to transport Covid-19 vaccines and pharmaceuticals to and within Africa from Africa. from Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Today’s maiden flight opens up new opportunities for Astral customers to transport cargo from India via Astral’s hub in Nairobi, and we look forward to operating more charters in 2021 due to the high demand for medical freight. ”
The plane arrived in Mumbai on April 18 at 4:00 p.m. GMT from Nairobi via Muscat. On the way back, the trip will be from Mumbai-Djibouti (Ambouli international airport) -Sanaa. As Ambouli airport is close to Yemen, all planes carrying humanitarian cargo should make a safety stop before flying to Yemen.
Astral has carried out more than 300 charters for the humanitarian sector in Aden and Sana’a, using a combination of B727-200F, DC9F, CRJ200PF and Fokker 27.
Also read: Astral Aviation transports 132k doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Juba
Recently, Astral increased 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of UNICEF for the Covax Facility for South Sudan and Yemen. While the all-cargo airline has also increased 900,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in 12 African countries.
Gadhia concluded: “We remain confident that flights will resume as soon as Covid-19 vaccine exports resume from India.”
Astral Aviation has signed an agreement with UNICEF to prioritize the transport of Covid-19 vaccines, essential drugs, medical devices and other essential supplies to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.