NAIROBI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese airlines could help boost East Africa's economic growth, a Nairobi-based aviation industry insider said on Friday.
Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of cargo airline Astral Aviation, told journalists in Nairobi that currently it takes between 60 days and 90 days for cargo to move from China to East Africa by sea, leading to delays of critical supply of goods.
"Chinese airlines could provide affordable air transport that could link East Africa to global supply chains in a fast and timely manner and help to boost East Africa's economic growth," Gadhia said.
He noted that China has emerged as a top bilateral trade partner of East Africa, hence the need for closer air links.
Astral Aviation has already signed a partnership with China Southern Airlines to distribute China Southern Airlines' cargo from the Nairobi aviation hub to Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan.
Gadhia said that it mostly handles engineering, mining equipment as well as e-commerce goods imported from China to the East Africa region and in return consolidates seafood that is sourced from East Africa and exported to China by China Southern Airlines.
Currently, China Southern Airlines is the only Chinese carrier that flies to Kenya.
"We would like more Chinese airlines to fly to Kenya so that they can improve connectivity between China and East Africa," he added.
Gadhia observed that Kenya Airways flies daily to Guangzhou through Bangkok in Thailand which takes almost 13 hours.
He called for direct flights between major Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and Nairobi in order to reduce flight times between the two countries.