The International Air Transport Association (IATA) lauded the hefty investment Ethiopian Airlines is making in developing air cargo infrastructure.
Ethiopian has eight dedicated freighter aircraft of which six are new Boeing B777. Ethiopian Cargo, one of the seven business units of Ethiopian, is building the largest cargo terminal in Africa with the capacity to handle 1.2 million tons of cargo.
In the sidelines of the IATA’s annual Global Media Day, Glyn Hughes, global head of cargo, told The Reporter that Ethiopian Airlines’ investment in air cargo development is excellent. “They have acquired new B777 freighters. They are building a state-of-the-art cargo facility. They are looking to the future, Hughes said.
According to Hughes, the pharmaceutical import and export is growing in Africa. “The perishable business is still growing and I think good facilities are necessary and critical to actually sustaining the growth,” he told The Reporter.
IATA’s report for global air freight markets released last week shows that African carrier’s freight demand increased by 7.4 percent in October 2016 compared to the same month last year. However, capacity surged by 24.7 percent on the back of long-haul expansion in particular by Ethiopian Airlines.
“The good news is that there is plenty of capacity for manufacturers and importers to bring in goods and export produces,” Hughes said.
Ethiopian launched an initiative to go paperless by introducing e-freight in 2012. With regards to the implementation of eAWB (Airways Bill), IATA said Ethiopian is playing a leading role in Africa.
Ethiopian Cargo has 60 percent of its shipment without paper on eAWB. “This is an excellent performance considering the global average is 44 percent. It is way above the global average,” Hughes told The Reporter. Kenya Airways has also 60 percent of its shipment on eAWB, and Egypt Air 52 percent. “Over all the African carriers are performing very well with regards to eAWB.”
With six dedicated B777Fs and 350,000 tons of annual uplift capacity, Ethiopian is the largest African cargo operator. Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said Ethiopian is building a new 119 million dollars cargo terminal with the capacity of handling 1.2 million tons of freight per annum. About 60 percent of the construction work on the first phase is completed and work on the first phase is expected to be completed next year.
“When completed it will be Africa’s largest cargo terminal and will be comparable with some of the world’s biggest cargo terminals like the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Changi Airport in Singapore,” Tewolde said.
He believes that the new state-of-the-art terminal coupled with the modern B777 cargo fleet will enable Ethiopian to make Addis Ababa Africa’s cargo hub.
Ethiopian Cargo was the second biggest business unit in the Ethiopian Aviation Group generating 425 million dollar every year, about 15 percent of the total income of the aviation group.
It has eight dedicated cargo fleet (6 B777 and 2 B757 serving 24 route networks. The existing cargo terminal at its main hub in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport has the capacity to handle 250,000 tons of cargo. It has modern perishable cargo (cold room) facility which can accommodate 65,000 tons.
Ethiopian Cargo has its European hub at Liege Airport in Brussels and its second cargo hub in Africa in Togo Lomé. Ethiopian transports various cargoes from different parts of the world with its modern B777 fleet and distributes it to sub-Saharan African countries with its B757 freighters.
By 2025 Ethiopian Cargo would boost its revenue to two billion dollars, its hauling capacity to 820,000 tons, its fleet to 18 and its cargo route network to 37.
The IATA’s annual Global Media Day was held at the headquarters of the association in Geneva, Switzerland from December 7-8, 2016.