Flower firms jostle for limited cargo space in Kenya Airways

Flower firms jostle for limited cargo space in Kenya Airways

Flower firms are competing for forward booking to get space guarantee for their produce on Kenya Airways as demand for roses in Europe soars in the wake of limited freight capacity.

There has been a high demand for flowers in Europe amid low capacity at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as flights are yet to resume full operations after the disruptions occasioned by Covid-19 last year.

The national carrier says it will be increasing passenger flights to Europe ahead of Christmas, a move that will help in evacuating more cargo to Kenya’s leading export destination for horticulture.

The belly cargo in passenger flights accounts for up to 40 percent of the total freight that is transported by air.

“We have seen a lot of forward bookings by flower firms who want to be assured of getting space once their produce is ready for export. As a result, some of the producers, especially the small-scale players have missed out on space at KQ,” said the airline.

Flower firms are making forward bookings to get assurance of space by the time their crops are ready for the market to avoid inconveniences of missing out on freighters.

“With the Covid-19 disruption still with us, businesses are looking for guaranteed space to transport their cargo overseas, and that is why we are witnessing a number of forward bookings,” KQ said.

Last week, flower farmers said they were being forced to throw away a quarter of their produce due to a drop in airline traffic in the wake of restrictions imposed on rival carriers to protect Kenya Airways.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC), the lobby for large-scale flower farms, says they need freight capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes a week against the 3,500 tonnes available.

“On average our members are dumping flowers equivalent to 25 percent of their produce because of the limited cargo capacity,” said Clement Tulezi, chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council.

“It’s unfortunate that this is happening when we have increased orders from our major markets in Europe and elsewhere.”Kenya Airways is at the moment operating two passenger flights to Amsterdam but it will be increasing frequencies on the route to three in December with daily flights to the UK.There is a capacity constraint at JKIA currently after passenger flights cut on their normal frequencies last year on the back of Covid-19 that saw airlines ground their services.Before Covid-19, JKIA had an oversupply of capacity that exceeded the available cargo […]

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