Kenya-based Astral Avation launches drone delivery services to enhance vaccine distribution in Africa


Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation has partnered with the Abu Dhabi’s HOPE Consortium to offer drone vaccine distribution solutions to Africa as part of their continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa.

Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems)as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations, Astral Aviation and the HOPE Consortium will facilitate vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations. 

According to Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”

Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries. 

This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes. 

In 2018, Dubai-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company Falcon Drones Technology sold two Lucas-F250 drones to Nairobi-based cargo carrier Astral Aviation and a year later the firm purchased another 10 F250 drones.

The F250 drone has an endurance of 10 hours, a range 1,500 kilometers, a cruise speed of 150 kilometers per hour and a cargo capacity of about 250 kilograms.

Astral, also has a small fleet of 737-400Fs and 747-400Fs, operates air cargo services in Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia and Rwanda, connecting to European hubs Liège and London Stansted that import perishables products like flowers from East Africa.

Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform. 

Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”