Air freight news – Post date: May 25th, 2020.

Better perspectives for air cargo capacity in June

Many European countries have begun a phase of deconfinement, with at least some commercial sectors starting to work under strict security measures. Italy and Spain have started to open their skies, and many airlines are reopening some of their flights starting mid-June or July, on a case-by-case basis depending on the restrictions of each country. Brussels Airlines aims to resume its passenger flights from 15 June, Air France and KLM are showing availability from 1 July. Those flights are expected by many producers who are struggling to get freight availability. The reopening is expected to be gradual, so the logistics problem and cargo availability will remain a challenge for the rest of the year. Going back to normal will depend in a big measure on the results of a potential vaccine that many countries are working on. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that for 2021 air travel demand will be 24% down with respect to 2019, and in a pessimistic scenario it will have a contraction of 34%, which will directly affect the capacity of belly air cargo. The latest report from Seabury Consulting shows a current 28% reduction in air cargo capacity compared with May 2019. The report shows a recovery for cargo capacity between North and South America, the only region showing a considerable recovery, with a reduction of only 8%. The reduction from Africa to Europe is still much higher than the global average, with a 58% decrease compared with May 2019.

Numbers are likely to gradually improve for June and July with the gradual recovery of air cargo capacity on passenger belly aircraft.

Air France started flying its wide belly passenger aircraft again, twice a week to Ghana and once a week to Guinea, Cameroon and Mauritania. However, some routes that were served are yet to be confirmed for week 23: Angola, Central African Republic, Gabon, Mauritius, Tanzania and Togo.

Rwandair is doing some cargo flights from Rwanda to Belgium and the UK, but not on a regular basis. Hopefully the date announced by Brussels Airlines will not be postponed again. This will definitely help to reduce the gap in freight capacity from mid-June. Emirates is already connecting Conakry and Dakar to Dubai once a week. Ethiopian remains one of the most active airlines in Africa, however delays are reported at its hub. Turkish Cargo is also another important link for African continent.

SIIM, Europe’s leading producer and exporter of West African mangoes joined forces with Air France KLM Martinair Cargo in transporting 400 tonnes of mangoes from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa to Paris and then on to European markets, in April (STAT Trade Times, 18 May). This team effort overcame major challenges, using cargo capabilities deployed for the transport of healthcare materials to the African continent, working in strict compliance with measures intended to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The joint operation had major stakes, as mango exports are a key asset of the Ivorian economy. Mangoes are one of the most important crops of the Poro region in northern Côte d’Ivoire. The mango orchards have economic and social value in terms of local welfare and employment in rural towns, but also in terms of combating poverty and extremism in remote areas. It is estimated that 1,000 tonnes of mangoes are exported each season, generating 1,000 jobs in the agricultural sector and an equal number of jobs in related sectors, ensuring a living for more than 2,000 people.

Astral Aviation has expanded its intra-African network to meet capacity shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak (Aircargo News, 20 May). The Nairobi-headquartered airline said that from 25 May it would add scheduled weekly flights to Lilongwe in Malawi, Lusaka in Zambia and Kismayo and Bosaso in Somalia. This will increase the total number of destinations it serves on scheduled services to 13. Astral Aviation operations director Michael Mutahi said there have been a number of operational challenges relating to crew quarantine restrictions and turn-around at certain airports, however Astral has managed to ensure that its flights continue to operate safely and within the Covid-19 guidelines of the countries that it operates to. Astral also operates a fleet of B747-400F transporting perishables cargo from its Nairobi hub to Doncaster and Liege, with Network Airline Services, and a fleet of regional freighters, which it operates to over 50 destinations in Africa.

The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has raised concerns about the air-cargo sector in Africa, which has experienced a significant drop in capacity to Europe by 70% compared to 2019 according to CLIVE Data Services. Despite the vital role this activity plays in providing people with basic necessities and essential medical equipment, the situation is very concerning on the continent. TIACA is calling on all stakeholders – institutional and private alike – to take action without delay to contain this phenomenon. A concrete example is that the drop in capacity has resulted in a capacity crisis in Nairobi for its perishables exports to Europe from 5,000 tons to 1,800 tons per week, which will have disastrous effects on the agriculture sector in Kenya, which is yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. TIACA calls on the air cargo community in Africa to rise to the challenge by formulating a Recovery Plan that will enable it to sustain the shocks of the pandemic which will require a collaborative strategy between the airlines, airports, handlers, forwarders and shippers. TIACA also calls on African governments and on civil aviation authorities to take immediate measures to support the aviation sector and the economy by cushioning them against the impact of the pandemic.

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, Air France KLM group is again flying its wide belly passenger aircraft twice a week to Ghana and once a week to Guinea, Cameroon and Mauritania. However, some announced frequencies are not yet confirmed for the following week 23 (Central African Republic, Tanzania, Angola, Togo, Gabon, Mauritius). Please make sure to check availability with the local operators. As announced last week, 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 pilot KickCharter programme: if there is enough demand to fill a flight, it is possible that AFKLM will create a charter flight to that city.

Lufthansa Group – Brussels Airlines has again published a tentative schedule of flights for Brussels Airlines that aims to start flying again from 15 June. The company is facing big financial problems and pilots have proposed to reduce their salary and their work schedule by 45% in order to keep working. Hopefully this schedule will be maintained: Brussels Airlines it is a big partner bringing fresh produce 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 are apparently going to be available until the end of May, however the cargo flights from Entebbe and Nairobi to Liege are announced up to June. They are increasing their cargo capacity from Nairobi and Johannesburg via Qatar. Entebbe and Djibouti remain with the same schedule. For updated schedules check the file download.

Emirates has introduced one flight a week from Dakar with connection in Conakry. Other possibilities are 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. 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 Brussels and London mainly, but not with a regular schedule. Contact their local operator in order to see availability. Prices are reported at €3 per kilogram.

DHL: No difference from last week’s service. DHL is registering a growth in ecommerce flows of 36% of domestic volumes and 28% of cross-border commerce in comparison with the daily reports for February (Aircargo News, 14 May).

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 is an emergency situation surcharge (fixed charge per shipment) as follows:

Chargeable weight (kg) | Charge
Up to 2.5kg | No charge
2.51–30kg | €2.50
30.1–70kg | €15
70.1–300kg | €50
>300.1kg | €200

Ethiopian Cargo shows some scheduled flights from Lagos and Lomé to Brussels and Liege, however these flights are not confirmed, and some have been cancelled. Ethiopian Cargo remains the biggest fleet on the African continent, with many alternative connections. It has increased its cargo fleet by modifying some of its passenger wide body aircrafts. We have been informed that 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 – 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 report, World Food Program report and Logistics Cluster report, COLEACP is developing its own summary of the situation. 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 21 May
Air freight: Since 20 March, all domestics 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 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 flights from Paris to Luanda on 28 April, 15 May and 16 June.

Benin 21 May
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 (which operates 1 passenger flight/week). Bollore will charter 3 Air France aircraft starting from 12 May, calling NDJ-COO. The next flight to Cotonou via NDJ (Djamena) will be on 26 May.

Botswana 11 May
Air freight: Airports closed except for essential cargo. Only charter flights from Johannesburg airport authorised.

Burkina Faso 21 May
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 BF.

* Air France is operating one weekly flight.

Cameroon 20 May
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 airfreight available to Europe. Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and Rwandair are still operating from Douala. Air France is resuming operations once a week from Douala.

Central African Republic 21 May
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 up to week 22, not yet confirmed for week 23.

Chad 21 May
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 going to operate at least once a week to Paris.

Côte d’Ivoire 20 May
Air freight: Cargo flights still operated.

*Air France has between 5 and 6 wide belly passenger cargo per week, DHL is also operating from Accra. DHL, Ethiopian and Turkish are also operating from Accra.

Democratic Republic of the Congo 21 May
Cargo flights are still operated by DHL, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian.

Djibuti 21 May
Cargo flights are allowed, but facing delays. Air France confirmed flights up to week 22, not yet confirmed for week 23.

Ethiopia 21 May
Ethiopian cargo flights still operating, but cargo capacity reduced due to flight cancellations and high congestion at Addis Ababa. No cargo flights on Lufthansa and Emirates.

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 & 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.

Ghana 20 May
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended since 22 March until at least 31 May. The lockdown was lifted on 20 April.Cargo flights are still operated (Bolloré WARA service ex LGG weekly, DHL, Turkish and Allied) but delays are to be expected. Domestic flights will resume after 1 May with Kotoka International Airport reopening to serve internal flights to Tamale, Takoradi and Kumasi. This does not apply to emergency flights, humanitarian flights, technical landing for refuel and medical evacuation flights. Airline crew will undergo mandatory quarantine during their rotation/rest period. Border closure extended until 31 May.

*Ethiopian Airlines is flying to Liege. Air France is operating again with cargo flights from this week.

Guinea Conakry 21 May
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated but very restricted.

*Emirates started operations from 16 May and Air France from 22 May.

Kenya 20 May
Cargo flights allowed but experiencing significant reductions in handling capacity, 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.

  • KLM AIRFRANCE GROUP 3 wide body belly 2 to Paris and 1 to Amsterdam and 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 freithers per week through Dubai hub
  • Kenya Airways 4 passenger freighters to Amsterdam and London
  • Ethiopian Airlines.
  • Ethiad 3 freighters (Boeing 77X) per week to their hub in Abu Dhabi
  • Turkish Airways

Madagascar 21 May
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.

Mali 21 May
Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated. First Bollore charter flight arrived on 24 April, the second arrived on 26 April.The third flight operated successfully on 3 May. Contact Bolloré Logistics to book a space on charter flights.

Nigeria 20 May
Nigeria will extend a ban on all passenger’s 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

Republic of Congo 21 May
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 sporadically a flight to Pointe Noire.

Rwanda 21 May
*Rwandair and Ethiopian are operating for cargo. Rwandair is operating one flight a week to Brussels and London, but it is not a fixed schedule. Next flight programmed for 29 May.

Senegal 21 May
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 is also offering one flight through Senegal. Senegal offers the possibility to export to South America with Lufthansa (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay).

South Africa 21 May
Air freight: No PAX flights. This is the airport with most freighters available (Ethiad, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Martinair, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, among others). Operations slightly delayed. South African Airlines rather to be avoided due to financial critical situation. 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 21 May
Air Freight: Cargo flights are operational via Turkish and Emirates.

Togo 21 May
Air freight: Suspension of all flights except Ethiopian (import and export) and DHL / 1 cargo flight Air France planed up to week 22. Week 23 not yet confirmed.

Tanzania 21 May
*Cargo flights are available. KLM confirmed operation till week 22 of 2 flights per week, not yet confirmed for week 23.

Uganda 21 May
Cargo flights operating with limited volumes. Plane crews will stay in Government facilities during their transit.

*Cargo connections available from Emirates, Qatar to Brussels, Liege, Doha and Dubai. Turkish airlines and Ethiopian.

Zimbabwe 21 May
*Cargo flights available via Martinair 3 times a week.

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