Africa’s haven of stability

THE downturn of 2009 encouraged some unexpected newcomers to African airports, not least of all some 747-400 freighters from Asia. In search of markets that had escaped the savage yield decline of Asia in the early months of last year, they had identified Africa as a relative haven of stability.

Shenzhen-based Jade Cargo Airlines started services to Nigeria in mid-April, flying twice a week from Shanghai via Shenzhen, Chennai and Sharjah to Lagos, returning to China via Sharjah. Singapore Airlines Cargo added Joh-annes–burg to its African footprint earlier in the year and signed an interline partnership with Ethiopian Airlines.

From the other side of the world US passenger carriers added flights to Africa. One of them was Delta, which mounted four flights a week from Atlanta to Dakar.

At the same time, operators from Europe and the Middle East upped their flights to Africa.

Some customers welcomed the influx of capacity. “It’s not the more, the merrier, but it has helped with operator availability,” remarked Iain Clark, regional manager of Chapman-Freeborn in Africa.

Predictably the incumbent airlines were less enthusiastic. The result of this stampede into Africa was an erosion of yields. This was exacerbated by the fact that volumes did go down overall, albeit less than in North America or Asia. “The crisis has not bypassed Africa. The big markets, with two exceptions, have shrunk,” said Hermann Zunker (right), regional director for Africa of Lufthansa Cargo.

For the full story read the latest digital edition of Air Cargo News, dated 5 April, here.

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