Astral Aviation has grounded freighters to South Sudan due to reported conflict in the area and won’t resume them until 15 July, but is carrying out charter evacuation missions.
The African carrier had stopped all flights from 9-12 July, citing concerns over safety of their staff, affecting the three weekly cargo flights from Nairobi to Juba.
Astral chief executive officer Sanjeev Gadhia says they cancelled freighter operations on Sunday after the airport in Juba was closed, but resumed flights today (13 July) on a chartered Fokker 100 on an evacuation mission (pictured below), landing in Nairobi at 15.30h local time with 96 passengers onboard.
South Sudan envoy to Kenya, Chol Ajongo says the airport was reopened yesterday, allowing aircraft to fly in and out of the facility.
Gadhia notes the war in South Sudan and the subsequent closure of the airport had created a backlog of 100 tonnes of cargo as of yesterday. The firm normally ferries 50 tonnes of cargo in a week.
Astral Aviation will operate charters for passenger evacuations from Juba – Nairobi on a daily basis and resume its cargo flights on 15 July.