The battle for air freight market share among African airlines is intensifying thanks to the disruptions caused by Covid-19, which have pushed up ocean freight rates. Many airlines are now upgrading their fleets and expanding destinations as container shortages continue to mount in the region.
In its latest market overview, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said demand for air cargo has remained above levels is pre-crisis levels.
“African airlines saw a 26.7 percent increase in international cargo volume late last year, the largest increase of any region. International capacity was 9.4 percent above pre-crisis levels, Africa is the only region in positive territory, albeit at low volumes,” read part of the IATA market summary.
< p>Shippers Council of East Africa Chief Executive Gilbert Lagat said that in addition to costs and efficiency, time to receive shipments has boosted the air cargo business in the face of ongoing road and sea delays.
“Importers are taking into account time, cost and efficiency. When the shipment arrives on time at a moderate cost, importers will reconsider and with increasing trade barriers at borders, air freight is the best choice,” said Mr Lagat.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh said data indicates that the cost competitiveness of air freight relative to container shipping has improved in recent months.
“The improved competitiveness relative to ocean shipping should continue to make air freight a bright spot for airlines as passenger demand struggles with sustained growth Border closures and travel restrictions,” Walsh said.
Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines have already devised strategies to take advantage of their respective airports investing in cargo segments.
Earlier this month Cargo operations officially launched from Kenya’s Kisumu International Airport to open up new markets for farmers r to open up international markets.
Kenya Airways (KQ) Chief Executive Allan Kivaluka said the airline will provide a capacity of 0,000 passengers f six tonnes of cargo from the region to the UK daily.
“KQ’s strategy is to venture more into cargo traffic, and we are committed to introducing a full-fledged freighter to Kisumu once the region is able to produce more cargo,” said Kivaluka.
He added, “KQ plays a key role in supporting trade efficiency by connecting the fresh produce industry from this region to the rest of the world.”
Kisumu International Airport has expanded its cargo handling and cold storage facilities, in anticipation that the airport will be able to handle more cargo from the region. The cold storage facility will go a long way in helping the airport build a full-fledged cargo department.
In order to improve air cargo efficiency, Ethiopian airline Cargo and Logistics Services added an online cargo reservation platform in the further development of its digital offer. The new platform allows customers to check flight schedules, space availability and cargo loading capacity, and make real-time bookings.
The company has also launched a mobile app that provides real-time shipment updates and time allows users to review flight schedules, make inquiries, receive notifications when shipment is ready, book charter flights and track shipments.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said they are committed to the long way to go towards eliminating paper from the entire air freight process by digitizing the logistics value chain.
“Eliminating paper from the logistics value chain is not only a convenient and hassle-free service for customers, but also ensures more efficient operational excellence and achieves long-term sustainability goals,” said Gebremariam.
The online booking platform of Flu ggesellschaft will be crucial to provide direct cargo customers and carriers reliable access to cargo capacity stocks.
“Strong air cargo demand is helping Ethiopian Airlines to build capacity and generate profits. We are currently running almost 70% of our pre-pandemic capacity,” he added.
Air freight market rates have increased due to e-commerce growth and increased demand for air freight due to shipping delays.p>
Ethiopian has invested heavily in infrastructure, equipment, personnel, systems and processes to improve its drug handling capabilities.
Cold storage areas in these cargo facilities are for transshipment intended for pharmaceuticals and health products and equipped with a special climate control between -30 degrees Celsius and +25 degrees Celsius.
These facilities are monitored by an intelligent web-based system that allows real-time management of all zones and can trigger SMS , Phone call and email actions in case of emergency.
The strategic and geographic location of Ethiopian’s home airport in Addis Ababa makes it suitable for the transportation of high-temperature sensitive ed products with year-round natural temperature stability between +15 degrees Celsius and +25 degrees Celsius, which will play an important role in minimizing potential temperature deviations in the value chain.