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            september 21, 2019

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African airports need to improve cargo infrastructure and procedures


The founder and chief executive of Astral Aviation, an all-cargo carrier based at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Sanjeev Gadhia, has called on African airports to improve their cargo-related infrastructure and procedures.
Making the plea on behalf of freighter carriers, Mr Gadhia, who's also a TIACA director and vice chairman of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Cargo Task Force, pointed out that the lack of adequate cargo infrastructure at African airports has long been a source of concern. He believes that only one-third of African airports have sufficient cargo-handling infrastructure to meet the requirements of all-cargo airlines.
Speaking at a conference recently, he observed that the air cargo industry is a catalyst for economic growth and development in Africa, but that high-quality air cargo infrastructure is a pre-requisite for sustained economic growth and competitiveness.
As a result, Mr Gadhia said, investment in existing and new cargo infrastructure should be a "national priority", adding that the involvement of the private sector in various concessions and public-private partnerships has resulted in "new and efficient terminals which offer sufficient capacity". However, he also pointed out that at a number of airports across the continent there exist monopolies on handling services - a situation that results in higher costs.
Airside and landside service roads are often not well maintained, a situation that has led to both cargo and ground support equipment (GSE) being damaged. He urged Airport Authorities to constantly monitor their ground services providers (GSPs) to ensure that they only use appropriately qualified and trained personnel, and that they maintain all their GSE in such a way that facilitates safe and efficient operations, London's Air Cargo News reported.
Security at airports needed to be tightened and the vetting of airport staff prior to them being given airside access security passes should also be enhanced, he said.
There is a particular need for improved customs processing in order to improve speeds of cargo clearance and reduce costs. This may include centralised and paper-less procedures for cargo clearance.
Airport Authorities need to involve cargo carriers and GSPs in any decision-making likely to affect their operations. There is a requirement for more specialised air cargo facilities that meet the individual operating needs of carriers, freight forwarders and the cargo industry in general.
Mr Gadhia said there should be increased investment in airport infrastructure such as aprons, runways, lighting equipment and accessibility, which would increase efficiency and turnaround times.
He said special economic zones/free zone enterprises within the existing land area available should also be designated, and private sector investment in these areas' development and management should be encouraged.

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