Air freight news – Post date: June 11th, 2020.

The start of a new beginning

The first week of June brought hope, a return of a new normality is visible in western Europe, as little by little measures of lockdown are eased in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The reopening of restaurants will potentially have a positive impact on demand for horticultural products coming from Africa, and that demand will surely be increased in the following weeks as many restaurants already have a fully booked schedule for June, although with reduced capacity – this is a good sign that the economy will show signs of improvement, especially in the food business. Since the beginning of the crisis, consumers have been paying greater attention to healthy eating, and are looking for products with a holistic view of health, including food, hygiene and way of living, which is good for the horticultural sector. On the downside for African producers, the supermarkets and restaurants in Europe are preferring locally sourced products, for example, the Belgian supermarket Delhaize is sourcing 70% of its fruit and vegetables locally according to Tim Lammens, Delhaize Vice President Corporate Affairs & Sustainability. Nevertheless, there is still demand for horticultural products, especially those that are not produced in Europe, or not in sufficient quantities.

Another good sign is that airlines are increasing the number of flights to Africa, as mentioned last week. We now have confirmation of some schedules beyond 15 June that show a considerable increase in frequencies. This is the case for Air France, which has announced a considerable increase in its offer to Africa, with daily flights to Abidjan, Bamako, Johannesburg and Réunion Island. For some other cities, even if there are not daily flights there are increased numbers, increasing the belly cargo capacity which is still notably low compared to last year’s figures.

Air France-KLM has informed us that a first KickCharter flight to Nigeria was successfully completed last week, and there is a second flight to be expected from Lagos to Amsterdam on 16 June with capacity still available. As a reminder, the KickCharter initiative proposes charter flights for small producers in destinations where there is a lack of flights. Minimum quantity to be shipped is one pallet. If the flight is booked one week before the date, the flight will take place. You can find the list of this special schedule here:
On the other hand, some producers are still experiencing difficulties in exporting their goods. In Cameroon, for example, DHL is giving priority to sanitary goods and documents, and the flights of Ethiopian and Air France are still too sporadic. Air France flights coming out of Lomé usually stop in either Bamako, Abidjan or Ouagadougou, giving priority to cargo mangos.

On the freight capacity analysis from the Seabury Consulting report, there is very little change compared to last week: airfreight capacity from Africa to Europe still shows a reduction of 55% for 17–23 May, compared with the same period last year. This is mostly due to a global 72% reduction of passenger aircraft belly capacity. Hopefully this figure will reduce considerably once passenger flights restart operations, mainly from 15 June.

Finally, the European Union is establishing an air bridge from Brussels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a meeting planned this week between the President of DRC and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and France (European Commission News, 7 June). The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge is operating three flights to the DRC, carrying humanitarian workers and essential supplies to help the country tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The flights are fully EU funded, part of a joint effort between the European Union, Belgium, France, and humanitarian aid organisations, and in cooperation with the DRC authorities. Since the beginning of May, the EU has organised four other Humanitarian Air Bridge flights – three to the Central African Republic and one to São Tomé e Príncipe. Other flights are planned also to other regions with high humanitarian needs.
The East African (8 June) reports that Africa’s aviation is estimated to suffer $8 billion in revenue loss as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by the African Airlines Association. The report shows the industry recorded a 90.3% year-on-year passenger traffic reduction for the month of May. The analysis, which is the first in a series of studies that will be published by the association examining the toll of the pandemic on Africa’s air transport sector, indicated that recovery is expected to start from the third quarter of 2020 with domestic operations, followed by regional and intercontinental flights.

Don’t forget to download the Excel sheet that contains information on most cargo flights available in one searchable database. Please allow macros for the file to work properly. Download the Excel file here.

Information for individual airlines and services

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo Air France is announcing daily flights from week 25: some of these destinations are Abidjan, Bamako, Johannesburg and Réunion Island. The number of flights to some other cities also increased considerably, notably Conakry, Cotonou, Dakar, Kinshasa, Lomé and Libreville, among others. KLM is also increasing the number of flights to Nairobi from week 25. As announced a couple of weeks ago, if there are no available flights from Air France or KLM, it is also possible to contact their local office in order to apply to the KickCharter programme (pilot) – if there is enough demand to fill a flight, it is possible that Air France KLM will create a charter flight to that city in order to consolidate cargo from different producers. A first KickCharter flight has taken place from Lagos.

Lufthansa – Brussels Airlines Although the official restart of operations is after 15 June, there are a couple of flights programmed by Brussels Airlines to Conakry and Abidjan this week. Hopefully this schedule will be maintained: Brussels Airlines is a big partner in bringing fresh products from Africa to Europe. Please check the Excel file (above) for all destinations available within Lufthansa Group.

Quatar Airways Full freighters from Lagos to Brussels and Entebbe and Nairobi to Liege are announced up to June. They are increasing their cargo capacity from Nairobi and Johannesburg via Qatar. Entebbe remains with the same schedule. For updated schedule, check the file download. Qatar has become an important player for African producers.

Emirates From last week Emirates introduced a new flight from Malawi to Kenya and from Malawi to Uganda, and further connections with Dubai. Other countries served are Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda, 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 been crucial in maintaining the flow of goods in the African countries.

Kenya Airways has converted four aircraft into cargo, connecting Nairobi to Brussels and London mainly, but not with a regular schedule. You must contact their local operator in order to see availability. Prices reported at €3 per kilogram.
DHL: No difference from last week’s service. DHL has seen a growth of e-commerce flows of 36% of domestic volumes and 28% of cross-border commerce in comparison with February according to Air Cargo News (14 May).

Temporary suspension of services remains to Guinea Bissau, and São Tomé and Principe. The remaining destinations are still served, but with extended delivery times that can be up to 7 additional business days for Sudan, Zambia or Zimbawe. From 24 May there is an adjustment on the emergency situation surcharge (fixed charge per shipment).

Ethiopian Cargo Available flights from Lagos, Lomé and Addis Ababa to Brussels and Liege, however not all flights are confirmed, and some are cancelled. Ethiopian Cargo remains the biggest fleet on the African continent, with many alternative connections. Ethiopian is currently making changes in its passenger airplanes to transform some of them to cargo and increase its service capacity. 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 up to 30 June, their service in Africa remains very limited. Detailed information is available here.

Logistics operations by country

Based on the Bolloré Logistics report, World Food Programme report and Logistics Cluster report, COLEACP is developing its own summary of the situation reported by some of our partners.

Below we list only those countries that have provided updated information to these reports since the beginning of May. Additional information from COLEACP partners is marked (*).

Angola 31 May

Air freight: Since 20 March, all domestic and international flights have been suspended. Restriction policies implemented in both Congo and Angola impact corridor PNR/CAB’s capacity to operate. The usual regular freighter Liege to Luanda is still operating, and a contingency pan has been set through 2 freighters/week ex Lisbon to Luanda (provisional schedule). In addition to these, Air France is planning to organise a flights from Paris to Luanda on 16 June.
*Lufthansa will resume operations 3 times a week from 3 July.

Benin 8 June

*Air freight: Air France has increased the number of flights to Cotonou to five times a week; Ethiopian operates one passenger flight/week. Brussels Airlines has announced restarting to Cotonou from 2 July.

Botswana 11 May

Air freight: No inbound or outbound cargo and no bookings accepted by the airlines. Trucking to JNB. Charter flights ex-JNB possible for essential goods.

Burkina Faso 8 June

Air freight: is operational. Cargo flights are still operated. Bolloré Logistics managed to do a first charter flight on 1 May. A contingency plan has also been set through RAM Freighter on 4 May. Contact Bolloré to check future charters from BF.
*Air France is operating twice a week to Paris.


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 origins/destinations.

Cameroon 8 June

Air freight: All international passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity; cargo flights still operate (DHL) but in a reduced capacity. A contingency plan has been set up through the Cargo Magma option available on day 4 via Paris hub.
*We were informed of very limited capacity on air freight available to Europe, considerable increases in prices are affecting exports of pineapples. Ethiopian and Air France are still operating from Douala. Air France will increase its capacity to 2 flights per week from Douala and Yaounde from week 25.

Central African Republic 8 June

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL. A contingency plan has been implemented through the BSA cargo option with Allied on Day 3.
*Air France is operating once a week and will increase to twice a week from week 24.

Chad 8 June

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended until 15 May, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL.
*Air France is operating once a week to Paris.

Côte d’Ivoire 8 June

Air freight: Cargo flights still operated.
*Air France has considerably increased its offer to 8 wide-belly passenger cargo per week. Brussels Airlines has programmed 2 flights for this week, but not yet on a fixed schedule.

Democratic Republic of the Congo 8 June

Cargo flights are still operated by DHL, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian. Air France also has one flight per week and Brussels Airlines will resume operations from 22 June.
*Air France will resume operations from week 25 twice a week, meanwhile the European Union announced 3 humanitarian flights to Kinshasa operating from Brussels.

Djibouti 8 June

Cargo flights are allowed but face delays. Air France confirmed 2 flights a week.

Ethiopia 8 June

Ethiopian cargo flights still operating but cargo capacity reduced due to flight cancellations and high congestion at Addis Ababa, flights available to Liege and Brussels.
*Lufthansa postponed its operations until 1 July, 3 times a week.

Gabon 21 May

Air freight: All passenger national and international flights have been suspended except for Air France flights organised occasionally by the French Embassy, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by Express via Accra, Allied, Stabo and Ethiopian. Any shipment to Libreville must be subject to mandatory agreement from Bolloré Transport & Logistics minimum 3 days prior loading. Airport staff is operating with minimum services and focusing on essential activities with a slow resumption of other activities in Libreville.
*Air France will resume operations from 15 June with 2 flights a week.

Ghana 8 June

*Air France is operating again with cargo passenger cargo flights twice a week; KLM resumed operations from Accra twice a week; and Turkish also twice a week.

Guinea Conakry 8 June

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated but very restricted.
*Emirates and Air France are operating twice a week from Conakry; Air France will increase its capacity to 4 times a week from week 25. Brussels Airlines has programmed 2 flights for this week but not yet on a fixed schedule.

Kenya 8 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 passenger cargo modified aircrafts and several full cargo flights. It is by far the most served airport in the region.

  • Air France KLM Group 5 wide body belly to Paris; 3 to Amsterdam; 2 full freighters per week to Amsterdam (Martinair)
  • Network Airlines 100T B747 4 times a week. No more space available
  • Qatar 3 full freighters per week (A330 F) through Doha hub; possibility of direct flight to Liege and Brussels
  • Emirates 3 passenger freighters per week through Dubai hub
  • Kenya Airways 4 passenger freighters to Amsterdam and London
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad 3 freighters (Boeing 77X) per week to their hub in Abu Dhabi
  • Turkish Airways

Madagascar 8 June

Air freight: For air travel, as announced last week, all PAX (passenger) flights are suspended and only Air France and Turkish Airlines serve Madagascar via their weekly cargo flight. Air France increased to 2 flights a week.

Mali 8 June

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated. Contact Bolloré Logistics to book space on charter flights.

Malawi 8 June

Country lockdown was suspended.
Air freight: All international flights are suspended except:

    • flights carrying health personnel, essential health equipment and emergency relief items
    • flights carrying returning Malawi citizens and residents or general cargo, both of which will be handled on a case-by-case basis


Ethiopian has now 2 cargo flights per week transporting essential cargo.
*Emirates is offering one flight a week through Kenya or Uganda.

Mauritania 8 June

*Air France is proposing 2 flights and 4 flights from week 25.

Namibia 8 June

Air freight: Limited flights.
*Eurowings postponed operations until 1 July.

Niger 8 June

Air freight: Air France increased its itinerary to 4 times a week to Niamey.

Nigeria 8 June

Nigeria will extend a ban on all passenger flights by four weeks as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Reuters, 6 May). Essential and emergency international flights, as well as all domestic flights, are exempted. Exemptions include flights related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, and technical stops where passengers do not disembark.
*Some flight possibilities for cargo were detected:

  • Ethiopian direct flights to Brussels and Liege
  • DHL direct flight to Brussels
  • Qatar direct connections to Brussels and Liege
  • KLM KickCharter programme for 16 June
  • Emirates
  • Turkish
  • Lufthansa will resume operations from 1 July to Frankfurt

Republic of Congo 8 June

Cargo flights are still operated by Allied, Magma and DHL. A contingency plan has been set up through the BSA cargo option on Allied available on day 1 via CDG hub.
*Air France has a flight this week to Pointe-Noire and two flights next week to Brazzaville.

Rwanda 8 June

*Rwandair and Ethiopian are operating for cargo. Rwandair is operating one to two flights a week to Brussels and London, but it is not a fixed schedule.

Senegal 8 June

*Lufthansa is offering connections to South America and Germany. Also, Air Senegal and Air Burkina propose regional connections. Emirates also is offering one flight through Senegal. Senegal offers the possibility to export to South America with Lufthansa (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). Brussels Airlines will resume operations from 17 June. Air France increased operations to 4 flights a week.

South Africa 8 June

Air freight: No PAX flights. This is the airport with the most freighters available (Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Martinair, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways among others). Lufthansa will resume operations from 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 8 June

Air freight: Cargo flights are operational from Turkish, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines.

Togo 8 June

Air freight: Suspension of all flights except Ethiopian (import and export) and DHL.

Tanzania 8 June

*Cargo flights are available. KLM confirmed twice a week. Rwandair is making a stop in Tanzania on its way to Brussels and London.

Uganda 8 June

Cargo flights operating with limited volumes. Plane crews will stay in Government facilities during transit.
*Cargo connections available from Emirates, Qatar to Brussels, Liege, Doha and Dubai. Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian. Air France will resume operations from week 24.

Zimbabwe 8 June

*Cargo flights available Martinair 3 times a week.

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