The North African carrier (code: MS) tabled plans showing large investments in its freighter fleet and ground infrastructure. Air transport is expected to grow by 30 percent following the announced expansion program.
Strawberries, grapes, peaches, peppers, sweet potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms or salads, apples, mangos as far as the eye can reach. Indeed an overwhelming amount of culinary – and visual –
delicacies that were displayed by traders from around the world at their stands, drawing the attention of the roughly 80,000 visitors and perishables professionals attending the latest Fruit
Logistica fair held recently in Berlin. A remarkable event, for sure and one of the most “fruitful” ones for exhibitors, buyers, airlines, and forwarders alike, whom Fruit Logistica offers an
ideal platform to talk business (see 12th Feb. issue of CargoForwarder Global).
Dominance of perishable products
One of the many participants was Ibrahim Haitham, Egyptair Cargo manager Germany, who had come from his Frankfurt station to Berlin for obvious reasons. After all, Egyptair Cargo’s number one commodity consists of perishables, accounting for more than three quarters of their total sales. Week after week, fruits and vegetables add up to 280 tons flown from Cairo, Egyptair’s central hub, to Cologne-Bonn and Ostend in the main decks of their three A300 freighters. An additional 240 tons are brought to Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt in the lower decks of their passenger jetliners. An even larger portion, totaling 56 percent, is flown to destinations in the Middle East and the neighboring Arabian countries.
“Agricultural crops are our bread-and-butter business,” states CEO Bassem Gohar of Egyptair, who himself still holds a pilot license, “accounting for 79 percent of all cargo flown abroad, securing us a domestic market share of 62 percent.”
Running like clockwork
Stunning figures illustrating the freight carrier’s concentration on this product but also its dependency on fine-tuned supply chains for securing the quality of the temperature sensitive items cultivated and harvested in the fertile Nile Delta. “The carrier’s freighter flights to Cologne and Ostend, their two European destinations, are running like clockwork,” confirms MD Hassaan Aglan of Skyline Air Service, Egyptair Cargo’s preferred general sales agent in Germany. Hassaan adds to this that in October and November, the peak months for perishable imports into Europe, up to 500 tons are leaving Egypt daily, with most of them ending up in supermarket chains across the EU.
Forthcoming fleet adjustments
A major topic, discussed between Egyptian exhibitors and airline managers at the Fruit Logistica stands was the forthcoming increase in Egyptair's transport capacity as a result of a fleet swop, replacing their three A300Fs with three A330-200 P2F converted freighters. This results not only in a 30 percent capacity gain but also in increased operational range. While an A300F can uplift up to 42 tons and operate 5.5 hours nonstop, her larger sister A330-200F is capable of transporting 58 tons over a distance easily doubling that of the older Airbus variant. “Thanks to the wider reach, we are able to operate all-cargo flights from Cairo to destinations in the U.S. or to East Asia once the three A330 P2Fs have joined our fleet,” enthuses Michel Maged, General Manager Germany at MS.
As a matter of fact, he and his MS colleagues don’t have to wait much longer for this to happen because the first A330-200 P2F is scheduled to join Egyptair Cargo’s fleet next summer, followed by the delivery of the other two conversions in October this year and March 2019 respectively.
New storage facility on the horizon
In addition to this, the management also plans to add two Boeing 737-800 freighters to the fleet, each of them able to carry between 20 and 22 tons. They will be mainly operated on African routes to better service the local markets, explains airline Chief Mr Gohar. Part of the investment plan totaling €115 million, is intended to be used for enlarging and enhancing the ground infrastructure at the carrier’s Cairo hub. A major cornerstone supporting the freight company’s growth trajectory is a new warehouse, adding 15,000 square meters to the existing ground facilities. It’s an investment in the future of Egyptair Cargo in the face of the country’s booming perishables business that enjoys record sales year after year.