New Freight Terminal Delights Ethiopian Cargo

The facility that swung its doors open on 29 June, is the largest and most modern of its kind on the entire African continent. It is designed to accommodate and handle up to 600,000 tons of air freight per annum at Addis Ababa’s Bole International. And that’s only the beginning. Ethiopian Cargo has got plans in the drawer to add a similar large complex to its new freight terminal in the coming years.

Ribbon cutting by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (standing left, with glasses) and ET CEO Tewolde GebreMariam
Ribbon cutting by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (standing left, with glasses) and ET CEO Tewolde GebreMariam

The new facility called Cargo Terminal-II complements the existing warehouse, lifting Ethiopian’s total throughput capacity to one million tons of freight per annum. For the cargo and logistics unit of the East African carrier it is a quantum leap, enabling further quality improvements and an increase in productivity, therefore, enhancing its competitiveness together with its market position.

Equipped with German technology
It took 20 months to build the complex and to equip the interior of the large building with state-of-the-art technology. Responsibility for the entire project was given to the German firm Acunis GmbH, a joint venture of Amova and Unitechnik, specializing in air cargo intralogistics. While Unitechnik was responsible for planning the entire project and implementing the technical equipment, Amova contributed the mechanics for the cargo handling and sorting system. The heart of this installation are two automatic warehouses for air cargo containers with space for 1,000 10-ft boxes with a total of 4 elevating transfer vehicles (ETV). Half of the 38,000 m² hall complex is devoted to the handling of fresh goods and cooled down to a temperature of 2 to 10°C.

Improved conditions for handling temp critical goods
These fresh rooms are of utmost importance for ET Cargo since perishables such as flowers, fruits and vegetables, but also general foodstuff, pharmaceuticals together with other temp sensitive goods contribute massively to the carrier’s volumes. So it’s no surprise that Terminal-II offers different climate zones for the appropriate handling and storage of these items.
"Planning and realizing a project of this complexity is always an exciting task, stated Torsten Ley, Managing Director of Unitechnik Systems GmbH, during the opening ceremony on 29 June. He is confident that “the facility will provide an important stimulus for Ethiopia's economy and infrastructure."

Sight of Ethiopian’s new Cargo Terminal-II  -  courtesy S. Schoebel
Sight of Ethiopian’s new Cargo Terminal-II - courtesy S. Schoebel

The Head of State praised the national carrier’s path of success
Honorary guest at the launching event was Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who applauded the development of Ethiopian Airlines in his speech, emphasizing that the carrier and its cargo arm have managed to become the largest aviation group and the fastest growing carrier in Africa “unrivaled in efficiency with shining operational excellence,” the politician stated. 

CEO confirms plans for constructing T III
He was followed by Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, who pointed out in his speech that infrastructure development is part of his carrier’s strategic roadmap, called ‘Vision 2025’. Further to this, ET’s helmsman stated: “we have been making massive investments in infrastructure projects to modernize and expand our cargo facilities at a total cost of US$150 million. The new Cargo Terminal-II combined with our existing Terminal-I will give us a total tonnage capacity of around 1 million per year which is the largest on the African continent.”
Having said this Mr GebreMariam confirmed plans for adding a similar facility to the just inaugurated Terminal-II, capable of processing up to 600,000 tons of cargo per year. Upon completion, Ethiopian Cargo will have one of the world’s largest freight terminals; a capability equivalent to cargo facilities in Amsterdam, Singapore, or Hong Kong.
Currently no date has been fixed for the beginning of the work on T-III. Clear is however, that Acunis, Amova and Unitechnik will take part in the tendering process, as spokesperson Stefanie Schoebel confirmed to CargoForwarder Global. 
Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services, as the offspring is officially named, operates 8 dedicated freighters comprising of 6 Boeing 777-200LRFs and two Boeing 757-260Fs. They serve 39 global destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, offering an average daily uplift capacity of 650 tons.

Heiner Siegmund

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