Astral Aviation (8V, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with lessor Nordic Aviation Capital for two E190(P2F) freighters which, if firmed, will make the Kenyan cargo specialist the type's global launch operator.

"We are honoured to be the launch operator of the E190F, which will be based in Astral's Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta hub. It will operate on a combination of scheduled and charter flights on our intra-African network," Chief Executive Sanjeev Gadhia said during the 2022 Farnborough Air Show.

Nordic Aviation Capital has secured ten E190 and E195 conversion slots and plans to redeliver the first P2F-converted freighters in 2024. The lessor is planning to use its own inventory as feedstock. The ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows NAC's portfolio comprises 117 E190s and twenty-eight E195s.

The aircraft will become Astral Aviation's first modern regional jets. The Kenyan cargo specialist currently operates two B727-200(F)s, one B767-200(SF), one DC-9-30(CF) (due for retirement in the next 18 months), two F50(F)s, and a single B757-200(PCF). It has ambitious plans to add A321-200(P2F)s, A330-300(P2F)s, and B777-300(ER)(SF)s going forward. It is also leasing A320-200(P2F)s to Indian start-up Pradhaan Air Express.