Astral Aviation (8V, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) will take delivery of its first of two B737-400(F)s later next month as it prepares to enhance its intra-African market penetration. Astral had previously announced plans to acquire three MD-83(F)s to replace its two ageing DC-9-30(F)s.

According to CEO Sanjeev Gadhia, the aircraft will be used to increase frequencies on the Kenyan freight specialist's existing routes to D. R. Congo, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Chad, and Central African Republic. In the long term, Astral plans to establish additional hubs in Lagos, Nigeria to cover the oil-rich economies of West Africa, and Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, South Africa to cover the fast emerging Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade bloc.

In addition to its two DC-9 freighters, Astral also operates a Cessna 208B(F), a Fokker 27, a B727-200(F) wet-leased from AeroSpace Consortium (AKQ, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), and a B747-400(F) wet-leased from Atlas Air (5Y, New York JFK). With Hainan Airlines (HU, Haikou) set to become a shareholder in the carrier, Astral also plans to introduce five E145 passenger jets into its fleet.