Africa Air Cargo Summit
On 24 June the Air Cargo Summit for Africa took place virtually this year, hosted and promoted by Ethiopia, and including key players in the air cargo industry for Africa. Ethiopian Airlines, as major sponsor of the event, presented in detail its Hub in Addis Ababa, which was one of the most active airlines keeping things moving in Africa during the crisis. It was designated by the United Nations as a hub for delivering humanitarian supplies. The hub is also able to receive different types of cargo and temperature, making it suitable for shipping fruits and vegetables.
Ethiopian Airlines has considerably increased its cargo fleet from 12 cargo aircraft to 36 by quickly transforming 24 passenger aircraft, first by carrying the cargo over the seats, then by removing the seats and using overhead bins. Zelalem Messele, Board chairman of Ethiopian, commented that the price of flowers went below freight cost. Many companies have dropped their contracts. Facilitation of internal movement between Ethiopia and Kenya will allow better handling of produce to the rest of the world.
Peter Musola, manager of commercial cargo at Kenya Airways said that the company is predominantly a belly carrier, but Covid-19 has made them reboot. The cargo industry in Kenya is supported by the flower section, so this has been challenging in order to transform aircraft.
Zayed Nouamani, Head of Cargo Sales, Royal Air Maroc RAM, said that the airline also played an important role during the crisis, especially proposing charter flights for perishable products like flowers, and he encourages increased pressure to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Pramod Bagalwadi, Chief Executive Officer Sub-Saharan Africa, DHL Global Forwarding, talked about the importance of airfreight and the preparation required in case of a new hit; and also emphasised the importance of engaging people in the ground in order to succeed and have enough monetary capacity for resilience. But even more important are the impacts of technology and innovation, understanding market demands, and being allowed to make things happen from home (increase in internet sales).
Glyn Hughes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo, predicts that it will take at least 3 years to reach pre-Covid passenger numbers to Africa again. Other experts are more optimistic, predicting a return to normality for the second quarter of 2021.
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) mentioned that African airlines have suffered an €8.1 billion loss, with 3000 jobs at risk, especially for Astral and Ethiopia. Restoring cargo capacity in Africa will require more warehouse capacity in different airports, especially for the cooling areas; and also an increase in the number of cargo aircraft.
Perishable exports from Kenya reduced from 5000 to 2000 tonnes in March–April, resulting in a 50% increase in airfreight rates. Capacity will be restored once international passenger flights resume; however, the industry will only recover in 2021.
The introduction of passenger freighters plays an important role in increasing current capacity. Henry Ambak, vice president, worldwide cargo operations at Emirates, explained that they were able to fly their modified passenger aircraft at full capacity, reaching their maximum weight to take off, removing all the seats in economy class. There were temporary traffic rights for cargo flights during COVID-19, although they had to overcome operational challenges such as new crew and flight planning due to quarantine restrictions, and encourage airports to remove slot restrictions. Emirates played an important role during the crisis and managed to handle up to 911 flights in one week.
Jeroen van der Huist from Flower Watch alerted that Kenya is facing cold weather problems, affecting production capacities. Prices in markets are quite good because of low production. They are managing to increase the quantity of roses in every shipment by improving the methods of packaging, increasing the amount of stems in a pallet of 300 kg from 13,500 to 14,490. The net flower weight went from 82% to 89% without affecting the quality of the flowers.
During this week we had the chance to talk with Mr. Felix Kamassa and Mr. Daniel Normanyo, members of the Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana (VEPEAG), a COLEACP member. We discussed the impact of COVID on Ghana’s logistics. Ghana was served only by Air Ghana during the crisis, and the cost of freight went up to US$3/kg (from $1.10 before COVID). The price offered by Royal Air Maroc to charter a flight was also around $2.80. If the goods were not transported, the produce would just rot and contracts would not be honoured. Currently prices have lowered to $2 to $2.50/kg. The cost of freight is assumed by the exporters as the negotiation of the goods was done in CIF prices, so there was no increase in prices of the goods, which is causing losses for producers. Currently they are trying to negotiate in order to change to FOB prices.
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New supply chain solutions
Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways are hoping they can ride out the coronavirus crisis by banking on their cargo businesses (BBC News, 25 June). Ethiopian Airlines boss Tewolde Gebre Mariam says he does not expect the government to bail the airline out, and to that end the airline has decided to focus on providing even more freight cargo deliveries, both internationally and across the continent, delivering everything from fresh produce to medications and PPE. Kenya Airways is also now considering wide-bodied passenger carriers to bolster its cargo shipments, converting four of its wide-bodied aircraft into cargo freight aeroplanes.
Qatar Airways deal with Airlink
Qatar Airways has signed a formal partnership agreement with Airlink promising to transport 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid free-of-charge over the next two years (Logistics Update Africa, 25 June). Under the new agreement, Airlink, its non-profit partner AFYA Foundation, and Qatar Airways conducted their first project transporting over 64,000 pounds of soap to Botswana. Airlink supports over 130 aid organizations by harnessing the power of the aviation industry to provide free and subsidised airlift to humanitarian response nonprofits responding to natural and man-made disasters. Celebrating its 10th year of operation in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic Airlink has moved 6.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment to the US and across the globe in support of vulnerable communities.
Information for individual airlines and services
Air France KLM Martinair Cargo There is a considerable increase in the number of flights and destinations of cargo passenger belly aircraft, especially for Africa. This week Air France-KLM increased the number of destinations worldwide from 66 to 76, and the weekly number of flights from 366 to 402.
Lufthansa – Brussels Airlines Brussels Airlines reopened operations to Gambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the end of June. From 1 July they began operations in Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Uganda. Lufthansa was assured a bailout of €9 billion in order to recover from this crisis. This bailout will allow to the group to restart its operations; the directors said that their goal will be to return the money to taxpayers as soon as possible.
Quatar Airways Full freighters that were coming from Lagos to Brussels and Entebbe and Nairobi to Liege are still programmed through July. Qatar has become an important player for African producers.
Emirates Flights from Malawi to Kenya and from Malawi to Uganda and further connections with Dubai were introduced a couple of weeks ago. Other countries served are: Senegal, Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and South Africa, among other origins with a connection in Dubai that relays with major airports in Europe, including Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Madrid, Zurich, Milan, Vienna and Maastricht. Emirates labour has also been crucial in order to keep the flow of goods in the African country.
Kenya Airways has converted four aircraft into cargo, connecting Nairobi to Brussels and London mainly, twice a week. Contact their local operator to see availability. Prices are reported at €3/kg.
DHL: Temporary suspension of services remains to the following destinations: Guinea Bissau, and São Tomé and Principe. The remaining destinations are still served, but with extended delivery times that can be up to 10 additional business days for many countries of the sub-Saharan region. Also from 24 May there is an adjustment on the emergency situation surcharge (fixed charge per shipment) as showned here.
Ethiopian Cargo Remains one of the key players for African market with a current fleet of 36 cargo aircraft (12 cargo + 24 modified passenger cargos). Their hub in Addis Ababa provides a wide range of temperature-controlled warehouses, allowing connections to Europe, Asia and America. Also, there are available flights from Lagos, Lomé and Addis Ababa to Brussels and Liege. Ethiopian Cargo went from servicing 10 destinations at the beginning of the year to serve more than 70 destinations currently.
FedEx and TNT – The restrictions to most African countries were extended indefinitely, their service in Africa remains very limited. Detailed information is available here.
Logistics operations by country
Our own sources of information are marked (*).
Angola (3 July)
Air freight: Since 20 March all domestic and international flights have been suspended. Charters/ humanitarian flights have operated at a very slow pace. Angola should accept commercial flights again, depending on operators and eventual Health Ministry/MINSA new procedures, starting from 30 June. Current known protocol for flights beyond 30 June should involve pre-boarding COVID-19 tests, and for in-flight passengers 14 days minimum quarantine (institutional or COVID-19/MINSA certified at passenger’s cost) plus test prior to exit quarantine.
Usual mains carriers (TAAG, TAP, Air France) have not yet confirmed final schedule plans for July/August.
As far as domestic flights are concerned, Luanda keeps isolated from all other provinces. Up to the end of June no domestic flights are allowed from/to Luanda.
* Air France has one flight per week and Lufthansa will resume operations three times a week from 3 July.
Benin (23 June)
* Air freight: Air France increases the number of flights to Cotonou 5 times a week and Ethiopian Airlines operates 1 passenger flight/ week. Brussels Airlines announced a restart to Cotonou from 2 July.
Botswana (23 June)
Air freight: Airport closed with no passengers/ cargo. Domestic flights restarted on 12 June. Trucking to JNB. Charter flights ex-JNB possible for essential goods.
Burkina Faso (23 June)
* Air France is operating twice a week to Paris. A new air bridge was opened from the European Union.
Burundi (23 June)
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended – measure extended until further notice. Cargo flights, sanitary evacuation, humanitarian aid and diplomatic flights are not concerned by this government measure and are still operating for some origin/ destinations.
Cameroon (3 July)
Borders are now re-opened. The Government has maintained additional social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Air freight: Operating as normal.
* We were informed of very limited capacity on airfreight available to Europe, a considerable increase in prices is affecting exports of pineapples. Ethiopian and Air France are still operating from Douala. Air France currently serves twice a week from Douala and Yaoundé.
Brussels Airlines restarted operations on 1st July.
Central African Republic (23 June)
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on the capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL.
* Air France is operating once a week.
Chad (23 June)
Air freight: Cargo flights are still operated by DHL.
Cote d’Ivoire (23 June)
Air freight: Cargo flights still operated.
* Air France has considerably increased its offer to eight wide-belly passenger cargo per week. Brussels Airlines restarted operations on 1st July.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (3 July)
Cargo flights are still operated by DHL, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. Air France also has one flight per week and Brussels Airlines restarted operations on 22 June.
* Air France is having one flight a week to Kinshasa, meanwhile the European Union announced three humanitarian flights to Kinshasa operating from Brussels.
Republic of Congo (3 July)
* Air France flights once a week to Point Noire and once a week to Brazzaville.
Djibouti (3 July)
Cargo flights are allowed but face delays. Air France confirmed two flights a week.
Ethiopia (3 July)
* Ethiopian Cargo flights still operate with extended capacity. The Hub handles different types of temperature for fresh produce and medicines.
* Lufthansa restarted operations on 1 July, three times a week.
Gabon (23 June)
* Air France is operating two flights a week.
Ghana (3 July)
* Air France is operating once a week, KLM has three flights a week, Emirates twice a week and Turkish also twice a week. Prices of airfreight around US$2/kg to $2.50/kg for Europe.
Guinea Conakry (3 July)
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended and the airport of Conakry is closed for international commercial flights until 8 July, only cargo flights are still operating. The President has announced that as a sovereign country they will decide when they will open borders, facing announcements by airlines of flights to Conakry.
Conakry is isolated from the rest of the country by roadblocks to limit the spread of the pandemic. Under current conditions it is impossible to reach the airport, which is currently closed. The land borders with Senegal are also closed. Exports of horticultural products by truck are impossible. Local producers are concentrating on other market places outside Conakry to sell their produce.
* Emirates, Air France are operating but is not clear if they are allowing cargo.
Kenya (23 June)
Cargo flight allowed but experiencing significant handling capacity reduction, delays are expected. Strict screening of crews.
* Different cargo possibilities are available for departure from Nairobi, including cargo-modified passenger aircraft and several full cargo flights. It is by far the most served airport in the region.
- Air France KLM Group, five wide-body belly to Paris and three to Amsterdam, and two full freighters per week to Amsterdam (Martinair)
- Network Airlines, 100T B747 four times a week; no more space available
- Qatar, three full freighters per week (A330 F) through Doha hub; possibility of direct flight to Liege and Brussels
- Emirates, three passenger freighters per week through Dubai hub
- Kenya Airways, four passenger freighters to Amsterdam and London
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Etihad, three freighters (Boeing 77X) per week to their hub in Abu Dabi
- Turkish Airways
Madagascar (23 June)
Air freight: Air France and Turkish Airlines serve Madagascar via their weekly cargo flight. Air France increased to two flights a week.
Mali (3 July)
Air freight: All international passenger flights have been suspended. Five Bolloré charter flights successfully landed in Mali from 30 May to 29 June 2020.
Malawi (3 July)
Country lockdown has been suspended.
All international flights are suspended except: Ethiopian Airlines has now two cargo flights per week transporting essential cargo, Emirates restarting with first cargo flight in Lilongwe.
* Emirates is offering one flight a week through Kenya or Uganda.
Mauritania (23 June)
* Air France is proposing three flights per week, but it is possible that it will increase to four times from week 28.
Namibia (23 June)
Air freight: Limited flights.
* Eurowings restarted its operations on 1st July.
Niger (23 June)
Air freight: Air France is programming two flights a week to Niamey.
Nigeria (3 July)
All airports closed to passenger international flights, cargo flights still operating. Clearing activities only for essential cargo at the airport to all clearing agents. NAHCO and SAHCO have skeletal staff on ground receiving cargo from freighters to central warehouse and releasing only essential cargo. Customs and authorities on site at skeletal level to attend to demand on essential cargo release only. Kindly be advised only cargo where the consignee can provide an exemption letter from Federal Government proving essential cargo status will be handled. Bolloré air freight operations are active on essential cargo delivery in Lagos only, Port Harcourt airport is closed.
Nigeria works as a hub for neighbouring countries, and even if their export quantity is not relevant there are a large number of cargo flights from Nigeria.
* Some flight possibilities for cargo were detected:
- Ethiopian, direct flights to Brussels and Liege
- DHL, direct flight to Brussels and connections from Gabon, Ghana and Cameroon
- Qatar, direct connections to Brussels and Liege
- KLM, KickCharter programme for 16 June
- Turkish Airlines
- Lufthansa restarted operations on 1st July to Frankfurt
There are also an important number of domestic flights across the country that could help to mobilise cargo if local measures of transport are too regulated.
Rwanda (23 June)
* Rwandair and Ethiopian are operating for cargo. Rwandair is operating one to two flights a week to Brussels and London. Brussels Airlines restarted operations on 1st July.
Senegal (3 July)
Air freight: All International flights will resume on 15 July.
* Lufthansa is offering connections to South America and Germany. Also, Air Senegal and Air Burkina propose regional connections. Emirates is also offering one flight through Senegal. Senegal offers the possibility to export to South America with Lufthansa (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). Brussels Airlines restarted operations on 1st July. Air France is flying three times a week.
South Africa (23 June)
Air freight: Johannesburg is the airport with most freighters available (Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Martinair, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, among others). Lufthansa restarted operations on 16 June. Trucking to Durban/ Cape Town/ Namibia/ Botswana where no flights operating. Charter flights ex-JNB possible, non-essential goods requires CIPC certificate and letter from customers.
Sudan (23 June)
Sudan Civil Aviation Authority has extended the closure of all Sudanese Airports until 28 June for all local and international passenger flights. Customs operations from 08h00 to 13h00.
Air freight: Cargo flights are operational from Turkish, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines.
Togo (3 July)
Air freight: Suspension of all flights except Ethiopian Airlines (import and export). Air France plans approximately one commercial flight per week.
Tanzania (3 July)
The ban on international passenger flights, both scheduled and unscheduled, has been lifted.
* Cargo flights are available. KLM confirmed twice a week. Qatar also announced operations. Rwandair is making a stop in Tanzania on its way to Brussels and London.
Uganda (23 June)
Cargo flights operating with limited volumes. Plane crews will stay in Government facilities during transit.
* Cargo connections available with Emirates, Qatar (Brussels, Liege, Doha and Dubai), Turkish, Ethiopian and Air France.
Zimbabwe (23 June)
Cargo flights only. Airport operating with minimum staff. Harare office open and fully operational up until 16:30.
* Cargo flights available with Martinair three times a week.