Never count your chickens until they¡¯ve hatched

While it has been very tempting and quite justifiably so, to proclaim the crisis of 2009/10 almost a memory as the global air cargo market makes its steady ascent from the chaos of only a short time ago, it may be a premauture assumption. As things inevitably go in this business, just when one bit […]


While it has been very tempting and quite justifiably so, to proclaim the crisis of 2009/10 almost a memory as the global air cargo market makes its steady ascent from the chaos of only a short time ago, it may be a premauture assumption. As things inevitably go in this business, just when one bit of turbulence passes by, out of the blue comes a dose of that nasty clear air turbulence. This time its the turbulence in northern Africa, specifically Libya. Although not the world¡¯s biggest oil producer, it ranks around 8th, it is significant enough to impact world oil prices which have already climbed since protests began. Currently at the time of writing it¡¯s unclear how the situation will develop, but clearly the air industry is worried that another painful spike in oil prices could be on the way, threatening to unhinge the current recovery. Writing this now from Nairobi , Kenya at the Air Cargo Africa event is perhaps fitting, as the events elsewhere on the continent and in Bahrain, although somewhat distant from here, have clearly rippled through the industry gathering. For one exhibitor, Eqypt Air Cargo, the future may hold some degree of uncertainty, although the carrier has indicated it will return to the skies by end-February. But aside from these dramatic events it is timely to be here in Africa. During the global economic crisis it was the Africa market that many cargo carriers turned to as a sort of shelter for their excess capacity. But now, more and more air cargo carriers are now going to Africa to take a closer look at the potential as increasing levels of FDI – with substantial Chinese involvement – is fueling infrastructure projects across the continent, especially in the areas of telecommunications, horti- & floriculture. All the indicators point to significant potential for the air cargo market in Africa, in particular five key country areas of growth: Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Nigeria. Much of this growth is supported by trade with Europe – primarily perishables – the oil and gas industry and increasingly with Asia where trade between the two amounted to US$100 billion last year. China is now Africa¡¯s largest trading partner with a 43.5 per cent growth in that trade last year. Meanwhile, the air cargo industry and only sit by and wait and watch as events beyond their control unfold and have potentially serious impacts on their business.