One of Kenya’s biggest logistics companies, Mitchell Cotts, last year decided to expand their air cargo facilities at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
A brand new terminal has been commissioned and the first stage is expected to be officially opened in September of next year.
The demand for perishable exports continues
The Mombasa-based Mitchell Cotts Kenya Group has been trading in the East African country since 1995. The air freight division is headquartered at NBO Airport whereas the land and sea freight activities are controlled through the Mombasa offices.
Services offered for the land, sea and air freight sectors range from Customs Brokerage, Trucking, Warehousing - to Packaging, Distribution and Transit Facilities.
The first building which will be opened in May has a total of 9,000 square metres and will be mainly dedicated to the handling of perishables and some dry cargo. This building is the first one within the planned 80,000 ton facility which will eventually come into operation if all goes as planned.
Mitchell Costs are working together with ACUNIS, a joint venture company of Germany’s Unitechnik and AMOVA, two companies who specialize in planning and providing logistics solutions for companies around the world. All three are looking at a total expansion of around 150,000 tons per annum in the future.
There is not so much space to maneuver at NBO’s freight area and therefore planning for the new facility was somewhat complicated. Apparently, a solution has been found whereby the facility is divided into two separate storage areas with almost identical layouts. One is for perishables and the other for normal goods. Each will have a so-called high-bay store (HBS) which can store 15ft air freight ULDs and which will be served by two elevating transfer vehicles (ETV) which can retrieve units which are stored up to 10 metres above ground. A Euro pallet store and a bulky goods section are also included.
Kenya Airways continues cost-cutting process
Although the perishable exports continue unabated out of Kenya, the country’s national carrier, Kenya Airways is facing quite some headwind. Costs are too high and KQ has just completed another “sale-leaseback” of two of their short haul Boeing 737 passenger aircraft.
It’s not an easy period for Kenya Airways’ freight section either. The carrier’s main sector is the Nairobi to London stretch, and here cargo revenues have been affected by the weak pound sterling since the UK’s decision to pull out of the European Union. The sector NBO/LHR is most affected whereby Kenyan shippers who receive payment in sterling have been faced with something between a 15%-17% decline in the pound sterling value against the Kenyan shilling.
Kenya Airways Cargo management recently reported that they’d agreed to cushion the effect somewhat by reducing northbound air freight rates in order to help shippers recoup some of the losses.
It remains to be seen as to whether KQ Cargo can continue this practice if the pound falls further.
John Mc Donagh