Air Cargo Africa exclusive – Swissport celebrates SA upswing

PERISHABLES had been under strain owing to too much rain in South Africa’s Northern Cape in 2010, meaning that business heads could not even drown their sorrows with a glass of wine, since very little of it had been produced.

But business is booming again, Colin Baldwin senior vice-president cargo Africa & vice-president senior cargo South Africa at Swissport cargo services, exclusively told Air Cargo News at the Air Cargo Africa conference in Kenya.

January 2010 started very slowly, and a 19-day national port strike also depressed the national market but the World Cup and June/July business served the company with a record volume, the likes of which Baldwin has not seen in his 23 years in the industry. Many sea goods being converted to air also saw business take off.

A series of new route deals further fortified the company’s revenue. “We secured a deal with Air Cargo Germany to fly from Hahn to Johannesburg via Nairobi on the way back,” Baldwin said. “We also won a cargo handling deal with BA World.”

The future looks rosy for Swissport with Baldwin predicting a 4.7 per cent tonnage growth for the year, slightly less than IATA’s 5.8 per cent. Challenges still remain. “Profits are tight and our big expense is in our warehouses. Many airports are inflexible on warehouse costs,” he added.

The key obstacles outlined by the chief executive officer forum on day one of Air Cargo Africa pointed to fuel costs, security and a lack of open skies being a hindrance to the industry.

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