Air Cargo Africa exclusive – Time for lift-off

THERE is no doubt that any new freighter destination has its share of obstacles to surmount. Some of these hurdles vary upon regions, others are universal.

The challenge for Africa is much to do with overcoming political obstacles and corruption. Cargolux and Saudia identify this along with air traffic and safety standards as key to smooth operations in Africa.

Cargolux’s Georges Biwer believes the current political unrest in the Middle East hints at a vulnerability to exposure for Africa on a world scale.

IATA’s Des Vertannes said the Yemen cargo bomb threat of October last year will change the industry forever, adding that rising fuel prices were another great barrier to success.

H K Kiofo, director general of Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority, gave an on-the-ground perspective, saying that incidents where unauthorised cargo was simply ‘slipped in’ to freighters are slowly being eradicated. Much of this has to do with a lack of professionals and adequate training.

Consolidation is also vital, Prakash Nair, manager network cargo sales department at Emirates SkyCargo, added.

These obstacles have not dampened the attraction to Africa and business plans are rolling out. Kenya Airways Cargo will bring on line its own freighter in September. Ethiopian Airlines will bring into operation two more 737-800s before the end of this year. Turkish Cargo is planning a new route to Addis Ababa. Astral Aviation is in talks with RwandaAir on a new partnership. It will also lease a minimum of two MD-83s next year. A plethora of other airlines including Emirates SkyCargo, MASKcargo and Maximus Air Cargo are hungrily eyeing new opportunities in the continent.

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