Widebody bellyhold pushing down the cargo rates for African carriers

African airlines operating narrowbody aircraft are seeing rates pushed down and margins tightened due to the overcapacity caused by foreign carriers operating widebody passenger aircraft with ample belly space.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is reporting a strong improvement in terms of belly cargo, although the mix of belly to freighter cargo varies at each site, said Nina Engelbrecht-Malherbe, senior specialist, cargo for the airport owner/operator.
“At the hub in OR Tambo [Johannesburg], it is almost a 60:40 split (belly:freighter) whereas at our other sites, it is closer to 90:10. 
“This is changing slightly, but it depends on the ongoing initiatives and focus areas the company is pursuing to increase specific traffic – both passenger and cargo and sectors – to our airports.”
South African Airways Cargo’s freighters, meanwhile, are less busy than they once were, though belly usage on the flag carrier’s passenger fleet has always dominated the mix. This is due partly to diminishing yields.
SAA Cargo’s general manager, Tleli Makhetha, said: “Other modes, such as road transportation, are much more effective on the shorter sectors where our narrowbody freighters are mostly deployed.”
Nonetheless, South Africa’s airfreight growth is likely to continue as the country focuses on economic development and initiatives such as Special Economic Zones.
“Some of our airports are directly adjacent to several of these zones, which means that companies within the zones can benefit from the proximity to the airports and the more efficient distribution times to global markets,” Engelbrecht-Malherbe said.
Plus: “As the country moves towards a more stable and stronger economic outlook, we expect interest in the freighter market to grow.”
All of these topics are covered in depth within the Africa feature in the June digital edition of Air Cargo News
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