African carriers on growth path; Emirates spoils ride
This was the second time African airlines have topped the global demand growth chart since 1990.
The aviation body said that capacity increased due to demand resulting from a strong growth in Africa-Asia trade, which rose by more than 64 per cent in the first 11 months of 2017.
SAA also has three dedicated Boeing B737-300(F)s for its cargo services, but it also uses its belly carriages on its daily flights to these two destinations and Dar es Salaam to move cargo.
But, even as the African freighters celebrate the improved performance in 2017, Middle Eastern carrier Emirates flew in to spoil the party, transporting more than 46,500 tonnes of flowers from Kenya alone in 2017.
The entry of Emirates in the cargo business consequently tightened the competition in the segment, with KQ saying that its total cargo haulage for 2017 declined 14.5 per cent to 51,668 tonnes, from 60,457 tonnes in 2016. The airline earned $71.6 million from freight revenue.
“The reduction in capacity was driven by the cut in the number of wide-body aircraft in operation. Capacity shrink and deployment of narrow bodies to cargo rich destinations contributed to the decline in volume,” said the airline’s chief executive Sebastian Mikosz.
For example there is a large quantity of green beans that travels from Kenya to the Middle East and Europe on our passenger aircraft. We have also seen large quantities of fish exported from Uganda and meat from Tanzania,” said Mr Al Hinai.
“We have seen growth of up to 20 per cent in the past five years for seafood to the Far East. We have seen growth in the volumes of flowers and other perishables as well,” he said.
Kenya says it is also enhancing its export and import handling capacity by 10,000 square metres, pushing the number of transit sheds to six. The move has been triggered by the rising competition for cargo amid a rise in horticultural exports.
The new transit shed, according to Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), will include coldrooms for the preservation of flowers and vegetables, an export area to receive and prepare cargo for loading, an import area and a dry cargo area.
“There are only five transit sheds at the JKIA deal with cargo. The additional facility should be ready in the next four months, which will allow us extra capacity of our uplifts for cargo facilitation,” said KAA commercial cargo manager Evans Michoma.