Kenya’s Astral Aviation to be the launch operator of Embraer’s E190 Freighter


Astral Aviation, a Nairobi-based cargo airline, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) to lease the first two of Embraer’s 190F passenger-to-freight converted aircraft. 

The deal with NAC, which describes itself as the world’s largest regional aircraft leasing company, was struck at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022 on July 20, 2022, according to a joint press statement released by Astral Aviation and Embraer. 

Astral Aviation will deploy the aircraft from its hub in Nairobi to support the airline’s intra-Africa operations according Sanjeev Gadhia, Astral Aviation’s Founder & CEO.  

“We are honored to be the launch operator of the Embraer 190F, which will be based in Astral’s Nairobi hub,” said Gadhia in the joint statement. “It will operate on a combination of scheduled and charter flights on our intra-African network. We are confident that the E-Jet freighter platform will be a game-changing addition to our growing fleet,” 

NAC reached a deal with Embraer in May 2022 to take up to 10 conversion slots for the E190F/E195F, with first deliveries starting in 2024.  The aircraft for conversion are being taken from NAC’s existing E190/E195 fleet, the statement explained. 

 Norman C.T. Liu, President & CEO of NAC, said “As a launch lessor for the E-Jet freighter conversion program, we are pleased to have executed a MoU to place two E190F aircraft with Astral Aviation, a leading cargo carrier servicing Africa. NAC aims to remain the leader in regional aviation and expand into larger narrow body aircraft, while building our full life cycle asset management capabilities.” 

Johann Bordais, President & CEO, Embraer Services & Support, said, “The response to Embraer’s P2F program, which was launched only in February of this year, has been incredible. NAC has already placed off their first two aircraft, and it’s great to welcome yet another operator to our E-Jet family.” 

Astral Aviation’s fleet comprises aircraft types such as the Boeing 747-400F, 767-200F and 727-200F, as well as the Bombardier CRJ 200F, Fokker 27F and DC9 Freighter.   


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