Africa has been a key region of belly route network development for IAG Cargo – the freight division of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia – and it has added new connections on the continent.
British Airways has added capacity via a Boeing 787-8 to operate four extra rotations a week between Johannesburg and London Heathrow, and three brand new rotations a week between Durban and Heathrow.
IAG Cargo’s regional commercial manager for Africa, Graham Tufft spoke to CAAS online about the region.
How has the start to the year been for IAG Cargo in Africa?
We have had a very positive start to 2019 out of Africa at IAG Cargo, achieving double-digit growth in our overall volumes for January, with Constant Fresh, our bespoke product proposition for the movement of perishable goods performing particularly well.
UK supermarket demand for fresh produce has been a major driver behind this, with South African perishable exports proving extremely strong. In January for example, the volume of prepared fruit salads that we carried out of Johannesburg was up by around 50% on last year.
As expected, we have also seen a huge resurgence of fruit exports from Cape Town into London, particularly berries and stone fruits, as growing conditions have improved across the Western Cape following last year’s severe drought.
Our network of over 350 global destinations has also supported strong and widespread demand for Kenyan grown flowers to serve the global Valentine’s Day peak, as well as an upturn in Africa-manufactured garments flying into North America.
How has network growth boosted freight opportunities?
We’ve bolstered our capacity in Africa this year to support these strong market conditions. Deploying a 787-8 to operate four extra rotations a week between Johannesburg and London Heathrow, and three brand new rotations a week between Durban and Heathrow, has raised IAG Cargo’s presence in South Africa alone to 43 flights a week. As a result, we’re better placed to serve our customers wherever and whenever they need us.
Is IAG Cargo seeing any particular trends in the region? Any growth markets?
Zimbabwe is a market we’re very excited about this year. Driven largely by UK demand, the country’s fruit and vegetable exports are continuing to grow each year and IAG Cargo’s 18 flights a week from Johannesburg to London provide an unrivalled gateway for Zimbabwean exporters to reach the UK and Europe.
We are also seeing a marked rise in volumes out of Mauritius, driven largely by growth in garment exports to both the UK and US – a growing portion of which consists of apparel manufactured in Madagascar, which travels by ocean to Mauritius for uplift by air.
IAG Cargo’s five rotations a week from Mauritius provide our customers with frequent, direct access to the UK market, along with an array of services connecting onto our 26 North American gateways.
The trend amongst international flower buyers, particularly from Asia and North America, preferring to source directly from the growers in Kenya, as opposed to from the auctions in the Netherlands has also continued.
In the lead up to Valentine’s day this year for example, we carried 90 tonnes of roses into Japan alone, and saw strong demand from the likes of Miami, Toronto, and New York.