Kenyan firm expects more Chinese airlines in Africa to boost trade

NAIROBI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- A Kenyan cargo firm has called for more Chinese airlines to fly to Africa in order to expand Sino-Africa trade.

Kenya's Astral Aviation CEO Sanjeev Gadhia told Xinhua in Nairobi that currently only two Chinese airlines fly to Africa.

"We want more Chinese airlines to come Africa so as to improve connectivity between the two regions," Gadhia said.

He urged more Chinese airlines to consider flying directly to Africa due to the huge demand for travel that is fueled by growing Sino-Africa trade.

In 2015, Astral signed an agreement with China Southern Airlines. Under the agreement, Astral will transport Chinese goods that arrive in Nairobi from China Southern Airlines to the rest of East and Central African states.

"Our role is to provide last mile logistics to Chinese goods headed to the hinterland countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan," he said.

Astral has also signed an agreement with the Chinese Customs whereby Astral airlines will be allowed to consolidate Kenyan bound cargo in Guangzhou.

Gadhia said his company is eager to sign more deals with Chinese airlines so as to ease the movement of goods between China and Africa.

He said better air links between China and Africa will improve the bilateral trade.

He also noted that due to the great distance between the two regions trade can be complicated.

On average a container takes 45 days to travel by sea from China to the Port of Mombasa, Kenya.

However, if the goods are destined for Rwanda, it would take another two weeks to be cleared at the port and reach Rwanda.

According to Astral, the same container will move from China to Rwanda in four days if it is transported by air.

Gadhia said closer cooperation in the aviation sector will therefore bring more benefits to both regions.

"It will result in lower cost of trade as well as reduce transportation time," he said.