Cargolux looks to add new African destinations

Cargolux is looking to add new destinations to its network in Africa and is hoping that demand to and from the continent will pick up this year after a tough 2016.
The carrier’s regional director for Africa, Jonathan Clark, told Air Cargo News that the airline was looking to diversify its network next year, with east Africa an obvious gap in its map.
“We want to diversify a little bit more into east Africa, you can see we are a little bit weak in east Africa,” he said.
“You have got Uganda, Lusaka, Harare, those areas are quite interesting to us, so we will probably be looking at these areas in the future.
“Also Mozambique is quite interesting for us, because there is a lot of oil and gas, particularly LNG, and when that starts to pick up in the next few years I think Mozambique will become quite busy.”
He said that exports from Zimbabwe and Zambia were mainly perishables and mining equipment.
Clark said the carrier has also been looking at north Africa and west Africa. However, north Africa’s proximity to Europe makes it difficult to justify flying a freighter because the rates are so low, while for west Africa it had been considering Senegal, but there is already a lot of competition into the country.
It would also like to start a service to Addis Ababa but Clark said it was almost impossible to get traffic rights into that market.
Clark said that 2016 had been a mixed year, with improvements in the second half.
“If I look at places like Bamako, Cairo, N’djamena, Abidjan and Ouaga, they were fairly stable last year and we have actually seen a bit of growth in some of these areas.
“But the main ones that have been affected are Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kinshasa and Brazzaville, which were really on a downward trend in the last year.
“If we look at the last six months of last year then of course they have improved a lot but time will tell whether that was a blip or whether this year it’s going to continue.
“The biggest problem for us is that west Africa is not busy and we are having to combine flights and that obviously affects the schedules.”
He said that the South African market had also been struggling over the last 12 months, while Kenya had performed well, particularly over the Valentine’s Day period when flower exports took off and Cargolux had to add an extra seven flights to cater for demand.
It had also carried out quite a few charter flights carrying cars for testing to Upington, while other charter flights had been completed to Maputo, Windhoek and Bamako.
However, Clark was optimistic about the year ahead and said that January and February had continued to show improvements on last year.
“For us, this year it is going to be similar to last year,” Clark said. “I would say the first six months we are hoping will be more stable than last year. The early indications are that January and February are better than last year.
“We’ve got a fairly positive outlook for this year. It’s not going to set the world on fire but it’s not as negative as last year. If we can add one or two new areas in Africa then it gives us a good platform to grow.”

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