Non-traditional exports drive air freight business

Non-traditional exports–mainly yam, pineapples and mangoes– are driving the volume of cargo transported by air via the Kotoka International airport.

The volume of air freight increased by 5.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, data from the Ghana Airports Company Limited has shown.

Tonnage of goods transported through KIA in 2017 was 50,360 as compared to 47, 677 in 2016, representing a growth of 5.6%.

The growth of the cargo business in the aviation sector is also attributable to the improvement of on-ground cargo-related infrastructure and the expansion of the cargo business by airlines already operating in the country, in view of increased demand for non-traditional exports

Air France, which started scheduled passenger operations just over a year ago, has also expanded its cargo operations and is reporting impressive load factor.

“We see a lot of opportunities in Cargo. In Accra for instance, we just started a new cargo service, exporting yams, from Accra with very good load factor. Full load of yam from Accra to Europe,” Senior Vice President for Africa, Air France-KLM, Mr. Frank Legre told B&FT

He added that the airline is also uses the cargo hold of its Airbus A330 aircraft to augment its cargo operations. “We have few full cargo but we also use the cargo hold of our passenger aircraft.”

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Air freight is fast-growing and has become so crucial to the bottom line of airlines operating to and from Africa. Aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has forecast a doubling of global air freight traffic over the next 20 years.

It forecast that cargo operator may require about 2,650 additional freighters over the next 20 years.

Airwise reports that increased demand will mean 980 new medium and large freighters, and 1,670 converted passenger planes will be needed to replace older aircraft and grow the global fleet.

The major drivers for this expected growth in the global rise of e-commerce, and the growing express market in China.

Ecommerce is forecast to increase by 20 percent annually, reaching almost US$5 trillion in 2021, Boeing’s analysis shows.

To meet the growth in demand Boeing forecasts the expansion of the world freighter fleet by more than 70 percent to 3,260 aircraft, with new freighter deliveries worth USD$280 billion.

Passenger planes, according to Boeing, will also be converted to freighters, with 1,170 standard-body and 500 medium wide-body aircraft converted over the next 20 years.

With the improvement in the on ground infrastructure—the construction of the SWISS Port and Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana is adequately positioned to tap into this expected growth in cargo.

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