Safi intends to strengthen Afghan cargo business

Dozens of aircraft are flying into Afghanistan day by day, most of them freighters bringing in supplies for the many expats that are based there working as diplomats, security guards or at some of the many official missions in the war-stricken country. On their way back however, the planes usually carry nothing but air through the skies.

Aircargonet Mueller + Partner one-way traffic Safi Airways Tilmann Gabriel Tom De Geytere

“There are hardly any exports,” explains Tilmann Gabriel why almost nothing is flown out of the country, except for many personal effects and sniffing dogs that head back home from their drug finding duties to relax for a while in a more tranquil environment.

Gabriel, the long-time executive of Lufthansa who is now sitting in the driver’s seat of small Dubai-based, Afghan carrier Safi Airways, which will soon move over from Dubai to Kabul to head the private enterprise once the carrier’s new headquarters is ready.

“It’s a pity,” he laments, that cargo up to this point is nothing more than oneway traffic into Afghanistan. “They’ve got fertile land, crops, grapes, beautiful roses, vegetables and fruits,” Gabriel states. But these perishables, he regrets, are rotten before they make it to the airport. It’s the lack of cool room equipped warehouses, extremely poor road conditions that make surface transports incalculable. On top of that there are three different security layers around Kabul airport where every single piece of air freight is examined many times by the guards.

“Eventually it can take up to a week before the piece can be flown out,” says Tom De Geytere, Safi’s CFO, who is also in charge of developing the cargo business. As things stand, “selling exportsout of Kabul is practically impossible under the given circumstances, butremains as challenge and vision on ouragenda”, says the Belgian-born manager.“As soon as there are the first positivesigns for two-way traffic we intend toestablish our own sales organisation inKabul,” he says.