Air freight news – Post date: May 15th, 2020.

Signs of recovery

This week shows an interesting move towards a slow recovery with respect to the air routes in Africa. More possibilities are available, and even if the situation remains very restrained, there are more alternatives than in previous weeks. Air France is increasing the number of flights and destinations like Mauritius, Chad and Togo. Qatar Airways is connecting Lagos, Entebbe and Nairobi to Brussels and Liege. Emirates is connecting Conakry and Dakar to Dubai once a week, giving hope to Guinea, which was totally disconnected. Ethiopian is connecting Lagos, Lomé and Addis Ababa to Brussels; and Addis Ababa, N’Djamena and Lagos to Liege. Turkish Airways published its weekly capacity for Africa with its hub in Istanbul. Rwandair has programmed three weekly connections to Belgium departing from Kigali. Another piece of good news is that we see some activity back from big freighters like Cargolux in Africa’s skies, especially in Kenya.

Western and Central Africa affected by lack of flights

The past couple of months have been very complicated for some of our partners trying to find the means to export their products to Europe, with many restrictions noted in several countries. According to one COLEACP member, Mr Jean-Luc Burquier of Cooperative Burquiah in Guinea, there have been no cargo flights available from Guinea-Conakry since mid-March. But Air France has made an announcement about new flight services from Conakry, starting from 15 June. DHL is not flying to Conakry and SN Brussels either. He also oversees exporting fruit from Cameroon and Benin to France, and airfreight capacity is very limited in the few available flights. Departing from Cotonou, Air France offers only a passenger flight via Abidjan and a passenger/cargo flight starting on 22 May via Bamako.

For the moment, only Emirates SkyCargo has confirmed that it will start operating with a passenger cargo aircraft once a week with a flight that will go from Dubai to Dakar and Conakry. This operation will start on 16 May according to their website.
Exporting by sea from Guinea seems also not to be so easy for the time being. This has been reported by another COLEACP member, Mr Julien Hildenbrand of Compagnie Fruitière de Daboya (CFD): “the situation is also very complicated at the port of Conakry, the port is totally congested, and the waiting list in order to load the ship is taking more than a week,” he says. “In the past weeks some ships registered delays of 20 days, so in that situation it is impossible to use the port to export perishable goods.” CFD tried to export in mid-April by using the port of Dakar, but was not very succesful.

Air France-KLM KickCharter: A hope to obtain charter flights for small producers

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo is launching a pilot application – KickCharter – through which they will offer flights to some destinations that are currently not served. If the flights are booked 7 days in advance, the flight will take place. The interesting thing is that they will fix a price per pallet, so this means that small producers should be able to book a space in order to try to have a flight. There is a big opportunity for cooperatives to organise their producers. Air France-KLM says:

“KickCharter is our shared charter solution enabling you to share a wide body belly charter with other customers to one or more of our selected destinations. KickCharter allows multiple forwarders to ship to destinations not included in our current summer network. By combining shipment requests, we can offer more competitive charter prices. You can choose the flight, but it will only operate if sufficient capacity is sold before the deadline set for each charter. For now, we’re kicking off with a pilot, so if you’d like to participate please send an email to our KickCharter desk to request a personal link to the KickCharter platform.”

Once you have a personal link, you can access the KickCharter platform any time. This shows a selection of lower-deck destinations, each with a fixed price per pallet. If your pallet weighs more than 3 tonnes, an “over pivot rate” will be applied. You can only participate with full pallets.
A deadline will be shown for each destination – usually around 7 days before departure. You can withdraw before the deadline by revisiting the KickCharter platform using your personal link. After the deadline, you will be committed to the registered pallets. Once the deadline has passed, and if a sufficient number of customers register, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo will arrange the aircraft, its crew and the necessary flight permits. Once this is taken care of, air waybills will be created and the final booking details will be shared with you.

  • Lower-deck destinations
  • Outside our current skeleton network
  • Wide body belly
  • Full pallets
  • Fixed price per pallet
  • Maximum of 3 tonnes for the fixed price
  • Participate from 1 ULD up
  • Terms & conditions apply

Relief for Kenyan food exporters as more airlines resume flights

Foreign-based airlines have resumed flying to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as European countries start easing Covid-19 lockdowns, pushing up demand for fresh produce and the capacity of freighters (Fresh Plaza, 8 May). The latest entrants are British Airways and Singapore Air, which had stopped plying the Nairobi route following restrictions on international travel and low demand for horticultural produce in Europe after cancellation of orders.
Other airlines have also increased their frequencies, with Ethiopian Airlines flying daily from JKIA, KLM three times a week, and Kenya Airways (KQ) also making a couple of trips to Europe and China. “We are happy that the capacity for freight is now building up at JKIA and this will go a long way in ensuring we do not suffer space constraint as well as address the high cargo rates being levied at the moment,” said Fresh Produce Consortium chief executive Ojepat Okisegere.
Emirates SkyCargo introduced two weekly flights last month, utilising the belly-hold capacity on its Boeing 777-300 ER passenger aircraft to supplement the cargo capacity offered by its freight aircraft from Nairobi and Eldoret.

Pineapples shipped via air hit disastrous records

Italian company 2M Exotic Fruits reports that “for those who used to imported, high-quality pineapples, the situation is dramatic” (Fresh Plaza, 6 May). There are no more regular airliners and so shipments are blocked. Consequently, the costs for the very few active flights have skyrocketed.
Luca Bernardini, owner of 2M Exotic Fruits (which markets under the brand ‘Anana’), said: “In the pre-coronavirus era the cost of goods shipped by air was about 90 cents per kg. Now we are in the order of 2.5 euro (both amounts are for transport only), but obviously there are very few flights available. In light of this, we have blocked imports for two months now.” In the Dominican Republic, growers are exhausted because no one buys their pineapples any more. The internal market, without tourism, does not consume it in sufficient volumes, exports are blocked and the entire supply chain is collapsing. “Before Covid-19 we had two daily planes over Madrid that brought the pineapples from the Dominican Republic to Europe, plus 3 or 4 weekly flights over Malpensa. Now there’s none left.”

Information for individual airlines and services

For full schedules for Air France KLM Martinair Cargo; Lufthansa, Quatar Airways; Emirates; and DHL, download the file here.

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo Good news from Air France KLM Martinair Cargo: the group is flying again their wide belly passenger aircrafts twice a week to Mauritius and Bangui, once a week to Lomé and Yamena to Paris, and they are increasing to three full freighters a week from Harare to Amsterdam, which gives new hope for exports from those countries. In other good news, of a pilot programme, KickCharter, has been launched in order to request flights where there are none currently available. More information in the article above.

Quatar Airways Full freighters are doing a route starting from Lagos, with short stopover in Entebbe and Nairobi and then a direct flight to Brussels once a week, and from Entebbe and Nairobi to Liege, which increases the offer available. Also, there is a programmed flight from Accra to Brussels on 19 May (source flight radar), but not yet confirmed by Qatar Airways. Please refer to local operators to confirm this possibility. They are still offering freight service via Qatar from the following cities in Africa: Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Djibouti (Djibouti) with a wide range of cities in Europe, including Brussels, Liege, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Prague and London. For updated schedule check the file download.

Emirates Very good news, especially for Guinea: Emirates will introduce one flight a week from Dakar with connection in Conakry from 16 May. Other possibilities are also available from Nairobi, Stendi Kisa (Kenya), Entebbe (Uganda), Khartoum (Sudan) and Casa Blanca (Morocco). Flights are via Dubai with connections with major airports in Europe including Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Madrid, Zurich, Milan, Vienna and Maastricht. A 15% increase in freight rates has been reported.

More than 2,500 tonnes of food from Kenya have been exported using this service, including fresh fruits such as pineapples and mangoes.

Kenya Airways has converted four aircraft into cargo, connecting Nairobi to Europe, however prices have been reported at 3 euros per kilogram. KQ said the move was aimed at keeping the airline in operation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has completely crippled the air travel industry globally (, 1 May). CEO Allan Kilavuka said the grounded KQ passenger planes would complement the carrier’s cargo freighters to ferry cargo across the world. Cargo flights remain operational to offer emergency services and supplies during the pandemic.

In mid-April, a KQ Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft exported 40 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to London, UK after it was converted into a cargo plane.

DHL Has started servicing Mauritius, Somalia and Timor Leste again. Temporary suspension of services remains to the following destinations: Cuba, Guinea Bissau, Mayotte, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles. 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. Also, from 1 April there will be an emergency situation surcharge (fixed charge per shipment) as follows:
Chargeable weight (kg) | Charge
Up to 2.5 kg | No charge
2.51–30 kg | €2.50
30.1–70 kg | €15
70.1–300 kg | €50
>300.1 kg | €200

Ethiopian Cargo Has some available flights from Lagos and Lomé to Brussels and Liege. Ethiopian is currently making changes in its passenger airplanes to transform some of them to cargo and increase its service capacity. However, cargo prices have risen considerably. A surcharge for more than 5,000 tonnes in their hub at Addis Ababa has been reported, which may cause big delays. If you are using this carrier to transport perishables, make sure they can assure transport to destination.

Bad news again from Lufthansa Group: the new update shows a new delay on the restart of operations of Brussels Airlines. The restart will be possible when people are allowed to travel freely from Belgium, so they will not be restarting operations any time soon. They perform occasional charter flights, but not on a regular basis. Lufthansa will be offering connections Germany–Senegal and Senegal–Latin America from the first week of May. For updated schedules check the file download above.

FedEx and TNT FedEx has extended its suspension to most African countries until the end of May. Detailed information is available here.

Logistics operations by country

Based on the Bolloré Logistics and Logistics Cluster reports, COLEACP is developing its own summary of the situation as reported by some of our partners. Please note that even if the reports are updated daily on their websites, not all countries have updated their information, so it is important to verify the date of the last report.

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

Angola Air freight:

Since 20/03/2020, all domestic and international flights have been suspended. Restriction policies implemented in both Congo and Angola impact corridor PNR/CABs’ capacity to operate. The usual regular freighter LGG/LAD is still operating, and a contingency plan has been set through two freighters/week ex LSB to LAD (provisional schedule). In addition to these, Air France is planning to organise flights from CDG to LAD on 28 April, 15 May and 16 June. In addition, alternative solutions are currently being discussed to deal with the corridor situation.


Air freight: All flights have been suspended since 20 March, and all airlines stopped their services except for Air France (which operates 1 passenger flight + 1 cargo freighter/week) and Ethiopian Airlines (which operates 1 passenger flight/week). Bolloré will charter three Air France aircraft starting from 12 May calling NDJ–COO.


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

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. 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
Burkina Faso.
*There is one weekly flight offered by Air France.


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 CDG hub.
*We were informed of very limited capacity on airfreight available to Europe. Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and Rwandair are still operating from Douala.

Central African Republic

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 announced a passenger cargo flight twice a week that will start to operate.


Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended until 25 April, putting more constraint on the capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL.
*Air France is going to operate at least once a week to Paris.

Côte d’Ivoire

Air freight: Cargo flights still operated.
*Air France has between 5 and 6 wide belly passenger cargo per week.


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 Air and Ethiopian. Any shipment to Libreville must be subject to mandatory agreement from Bolloré Transport & Logistics minimum 3 days prior to loading. Airport staff is operating with minimum services and focusing on essential activities with a slow resumption of other activities in Libreville.


Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended since 22 March until further notice. The lockdown was lifted on 20 April.Cargo flights are still operated (Bolloré WARA service ex LGG weekly, (DHL, Turkish Airlines and Allied), but delays are to be expected. The restriction also does not apply to emergency flights, technical landings for refuel only, or medical evacuation flights. The exempted flights are to seek pre-authorization from the Ghanaian entities.
*Ethiopian Airlines is flying to Liege.

Guinea Conakry

Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated but very restricted.
*Emirates announced operations from 16 May and Air France from 22 May.


Cargo flight allowed but experiencing significant handling capacity reduction. 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: 3 wide body belly, 2 to Paris and 1 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 2 passenger freighters per week through Dubai hub
  • Kenya Airways 4 passenger freighters, no schedule available
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad 3 freighters (Boeing 77X) per week to their hub in Abu Dabi
  • Turkish airways
  • Cargolux


Progressive deconfinement from 20 April. State of health emergency extended until 17 May. 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 freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated. The first Bolloré charter flight arrived on 24 April, the second on 26 April. A third flight operated successfully on 3 May.


*Some flight possibilities for cargo:

  • Ethiopian direct flights to Brussels and Liege
  • DHL direct flight to Brussels
  • Cargolux
  • Qatar direct connexions to Brussels and Liege


*Rwandair and Ethiopian are operating for cargo.


Air freight: Turkish and Air France cargo flights restart twice a week (Turkish on Wednesday and weekend; Air France on Tuesday and Sunday).
*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.

South Africa

Air freight: No PAX flights. Freighters to JNB operating (Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Martinair, Saudi Arabian Airlines, KLM) Operations slightly delayed. South African Airways rather to be avoided due to financial critical situation. Fedex: JNB to MEM and over 100 destinations available. Congestion at ET GHA (Aero Link) 48h delays. Trucking to DBN/CPT/Namibia/Botswana where no flights operating. Charter flights ex-JNB possible. Non-essential goods require CIPC certificate and letter from customers.


Cargo flights operating with limited volumes. Plane crews will stay in Government facilities during transit.
*Cargo connexions available from Emirates, Qatar.

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