Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Aviation Group, has expanded its pharma sector reach into Africa with the signing of a Service Legal Agreement (SLA) with Astral Aviation and Kenya Airways to provide reliable and cost-effective airfreight solutions across the continent.
Operating a fleet of 14 freighters out of its Nairobi and Johannesburg hub, Astral Aviation services a network of 15 African destinations, which Etihad Cargo will leverage for increased vaccine distribution across Africa.
Etihad Cargo said in a statement that both carriers are members of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) and Pharma.Aero, whose joint Project Sunrays initiative offers cross-industry collaboration for pharma shippers managing complex vaccine distribution logistics.
The SLA, a first Pharma Interline agreement, ensures Etihad Cargo partners are fully compliant with latest GDP and IATA Pharma regulations and standards, and guarantees processes, from booking to handling of such sensitive goods, are standardised and performed to the highest quality.
“In addition to significantly expanding Etihad Cargo’s reach across Africa, this inter-airline agreement ensures complete adherence to the specific requirements of pharmaceutical product transportation. Customers can be reassured that Etihad Cargo partners will expertly maintain cool chain integrity,” said Martin Drew, senior vice president Sales and Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group.
Etihad Cargo is committed to shipping and storing pharmaceuticals with passive packaging between the main temperature ranges known as COL (+2 to +8°C), CRT (+15 to +25°C) and ERT (+2 to +25 °C).
“We are honoured to partner with Etihad Cargo and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to and within Africa. The equitable access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa will be enhanced with the help of partnerships and collaborations within the aviation sector, such as the one enacted between Etihad Cargo and Astral, which will offer one-stop solution for the vaccines to and within Africa,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation.
Meanwhile, Peter Musola, head of cargo commercial at Kenya Airways said initiative will help bring in much-needed Covid-19 vaccine to Africa.
“With only 2.5% of the African continent vaccinated against Covid-19, this will go a long way toward achieving the Africa Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) to vaccinate 60 per cent of the population by the end of 2022 which will result in. This is a fundamental need and pre-requisite toward aviation recovery in Africa," he added.
Abu Dhabi as global logistics hub
Etihad Cargo said its agreement with Kenya Airways and Astral Aviation provides a "timely boost" in Abu Dhabi’s positioning as a global logistics hub capable of facilitating vaccine distribution in Africa, which now covers 27 offline stations and four online stations, the partnership also enhances the capabilities of the Hope Consortium – the UAE capital-based private-public sector supply chain specialist which provides global COVID aid to the world.
"The World Health Organisation has recently reported that only 2.5% of African citizens are vaccinated against Covid-19 and that millions more doses are required to meet even modest targets," Drew said. "Through Etihad Cargo’s ever-expanding portfolio of partnerships and collaborations, the HOPE Consortium can play a greater role in meeting vaccine demand."
Since the pandemic, Etihad Cargo has carried almost 2,500 tonnes of pharmaceuticals to Africa, including 41 dedicated flights on behalf of the UAE government.
The carrier currently services 72 network destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
It’s fleet of 65 aircraft operate 430 weekly rotations, in addition to charter flights which service demand across non-network destinations.