in Air Transport / Features

Ethiopian weighs in

Posted 19 March 2018 · Add Comment

One of Ethiopian Airlines Group’s seven profit centres – Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services – is making huge investments to its infrastructure and fleet. Kaleyesus Bekele reports.

With eight dedicated cargo aircraft – six B777-200Fs and two B757-200Fs – and a daily uplift capacity of 8,672 tonnes, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services is the largest cargo operator in Africa.
At last year’s Paris Air Show, Ethiopian placed firm orders for two B777Fs, valued at $615.4 million at list prices, and recently it inaugurated a state-of-the-art $150 million cargo terminal at its main hub in Addis Ababa.
Built on 150,000sqm of land, the terminal was opened by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council, and Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO.
It has the capacity to handle 600,000 tonnes of cargo per annum, adding to the existing facility, which can cater for 350,000 tonnes.
The new facility includes a dry cargo terminal warehouse, a perishable cargo area with cool chain storage, full automation, with the latest elevating transport vehicle (ETV) technology, an office building, an apron area that accommodates five additional big freighter aircraft, sufficient truck parking, and a canteen and wash rooms for employees.
The terminal is also fitted with different climate chambers for storage and handling of temperature-sensitive products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, pharmaceuticals, and life science products.
Ethiopian inaugurated the first expansion of the cargo terminal in 2006 and is in the process of launching the third expansion project – terminal III – with the capacity of accommodating an additional 600,000 tonnes of cargo.
The new cargo terminal civil work was completed by Varnero, a distinguished Italian construction firm, while US consulting firm Molen and Associates, with its local partner Sileshi Consult, supervised the construction.
The French Development Bank, AFD, financed the construction, while the German Export credit agency, KFW, financed the electro mechanical work.
This is not the first time that ADF has provided a loan to Ethiopian Airlines. It also financed the $100 million Ethiopian Aviation Academy expansion project.
Tewolde claims that the new cargo terminal is not only the largest in Africa but is also one of the best in the world. “It is comparable with the largest cargo terminals at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Changi Airport in Singapore and in Hong Kong. With this large and modern terminal, Africa can position itself in the global competitive market,” he said.
The cargo terminal has various compartments dedicated for fruits, vegetables, flower, meat, pharmaceuticals and other export items. It has four modern electronic transport vehicles and it can store 900 aircraft pallets at a time.
It has eight lanes exiting to the ramp and it can load eight aircraft at a time. The ramp can accommodate five Boeing B777 dedicated freighter aircraft at a time and it can also dock 18 trucks at a time unloading fresh flowers, vegetables, fruits, meat, textiles, leather articles and pharmaceuticals.
Fistum Abadi, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services managing director, said his company is now transporting 343,000 tonnes of cargo every year, generating 10 billion Ethiopian birr ($366m) revenue.
According to the Ethiopian 15-year growth roadmap, dubbed Vision 2025, Ethiopian Cargo will have 19 dedicated freighter aircraft (11 B777s, four B767-300s and four B737-800s), which will be able to transport 820,000 tonnes of cargo, generating two billion dollars of revenue by flying to 57 destinations. It now serves 39 international cargo destinations.
Abadi said Ethiopian Cargo is a pioneer, not only in Africa but also in the world, in migrating its freight business transactions to electronic freight (e-freight) and electronic air waybill (e-AWB). Ethiopian Cargo has fully implemented e-freight and is undertaking 78% of its business through e-AWB.
According to Abadi, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services is closely working with the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services, Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority and the Ethiopian Industrial Parks Development Corporation to provide integrated air, land and sea transport and logistic services.
Abadi said Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services is dealing with global electronic giants like General Electric (GE), Samsung and Techno Mobile, to set up its storage and distribution centres in Addis Ababa, where it can provide efficient and reliable transport services throughout Africa. “With modern B777 freighter aircraft, each with a hauling capacity of 100 tonnes of cargo, and a state-of-the-art cargo terminal with a capacity to accommodate close to one million tonnes of cargo, we are now globally competitive. Since Ethiopia is a land-locked country it should have a vibrant air cargo sector.”
The Ethiopian Government is developing industrial parks in different parts of the country.
With an ambitious plan of becoming Africa’s manufacturing hub by 2030, the government has built three industrial parks and seven more are in the pipeline. Ethiopian Cargo wants to support the thriving manufacturing sector by providing efficient cargo and logistics services.
“With double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth and an on-going industrialisation process, the country badly needs integrated logistics services. The logistics sector should prepare itself to handle the growing import and export sector,” Tewolde said.
To that end, Ethiopian Cargo has already partnered with global forwarding company DHL to enter into the multi-modal logistics business. “We are establishing a joint-venture logistic service with DHL. We are making significant progress. Once the joint-venture is up and running we are going to serve the industrial parks. Our main location will be Addis, industrial parks and major export areas,” Tewolde said.
State Minister of Industry, Mebratu Meles, said the construction of the new cargo terminal would benefit the agricultural processing parks now under construction. “Fresh produce needs to be transported painstakingly. We have up to 60% harvest loss in Ethiopia due to backward handling systems of fresh produce. Consequently, the new cargo terminal is critical for the agro processing parks being developed in different regional states,” Meles said.
Ethiopian Cargo is also supporting the development of the horticulture sector – Ethiopia is the second largest fresh flower exporting country in Africa next to Kenya.
Zelalem Messele, chairman of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers Association, said that previously there were some complaints raised by exporters about the exiting cold room facility. “It was a good cold room facility but there were no separate compartments for each product. We do not produce only flowers. We grow vegetables and fruits. We have strawberries. We also produce herbs. So now the new cargo terminal has dedicated cold rooms for each product. It will enable us to export better quality produce and in large amounts, and that will fetch more foreign currency to the country.”
Messele added: “We compete with Kenya and other countries and the cold chain system built now will make us more competitive in the global market. It is a great job done by the management of Ethiopian Airlines. It is a big deal for us.”
Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services will soon commence work on the third cargo terminal expansion project, which will add an additional 600,000 tonnes of cargo handling capacity. When the third terminal is complete, Addis Ababa will be one of the top ten leading cargo hubs in the world, competing with Dubai, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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