Cargo traffic keeps local aviation sector in the air

Cargo traffic keeps local aviation sector in the air

Doses of Moderna vaccine at JKIA. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard] Cargo business kept the local aviation industry alive over the last 18 months after the coronavirus pandemic dealt a heavy blow to passenger travel.

Freight is the only segment that is seeing growth, with the rest of the industry registering deep declines.

Data by Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) shows that cargo registered a two per cent growth over the year to June 2021.

Cargo traffic defied the impact that Covid-19 has had on airlines as freighters continued working as they were deemed essential even as countries locked their airspace to passenger carriers to curb the virus. READ MORE

KAA said goods passing through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) increased to 336.2 million kilogrammes from 342.7 million kilos in the year to June 2020.

“The cargo counter registered a growth of about 1.8 per cent (in 2020-21) compared to the traffic in 2019-20,” it said in an update on air travel for the period to June this year.

“This was supported by enhanced demand for fresh produce and other consumables in destination markets as well as the conveyance of Covid-19 related supplies.”

Cargo business was, however, still hit by restrictions on passenger travel. There was significant reduction in goods passing through other Kenyan airports, with Moi International Airport in Mombasa registering a 0.2 per cent dip to register 1.48 million kilogrammes. Kenya Airways plane at the JKIA. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard] JKIA was the second busiest in terms of freight on the continent, only bettered by Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport, according to the African Airlines Association (Afraa).

Bole Airport is the hub for Ethiopian Airlines, which handled large consignments of personal protective equipment (PPEs) being shipped to Africa and because of this, the carrier was among the few that reported a profit in 2020.

JKIA was ahead of other ports that register much higher passenger traffic such as Cairo and South Africa’s OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg.

“Addis Ababa airport handled more than 500,000 tonnes of freight during the year 2020. Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta and Cairo followed with 336,000 tonnes and 280,000 tonnes,” said Afraa.Cargo was also a key performer for national carrier Kenya Airways. Although the carrier is still deep in losses , it made modest gains as it sought to increase the contribution of cargo to its revenues.The airline in 2020 repurposed two of its passenger planes into cargo freighters as it sought more share of the cargo […]

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