Monday, May 27, 2024
North Africa attracts the aviation industry

North Africa attracts the aviation industry

North Africa is an increasingly attractive market for the airfreight industry, showing buoyant growth during an otherwise relatively flat year. Data shows that North Africa was one of just five sub regions to grow in the first six months of 2023, surging 21% year-on-year. 

The strength of the North African airfreight market was in contrast to the 19% year-on-year declines seen in the United States and Southeast Asia, 14% drop in Northeast Asia and 13% fall in the Gulf region. 

Based out of Tunisia’s capital city, freight forwarder Tunis is riding this wave of growth despite intense pressure in the market from international airlines and their partners.  

“Airlines are in hard competition from Emirates, Qatar Airways, to  others with aggressive sales force. Recently, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, in partnership with Poste Air Cargo, opened new routes to connect Tunisia to more than 84 destinations in Africa which offer more capacity and solution to Tunisian Economic operators,” Montasser Channoufi, founder and CEO of Africa Transport & Logistics Solutions (ATLS), said. “Capacity of airlines is following the demand  growth.” 

READ: Full year 2023 ends at -5%, year on year

Strength in diversity 

While increasingly hotly contested, the African airfreight presents a diverse range of opportunities in the cargo sector. Perishable items, such as fresh fish, automotive goods travelling to major hubs or oil and gas being moved, the options are vast for cargo handlers. 

Europe is naturally a key market for export, given its close proximity to Tunisia, with North African exporters seeing them as part of the region’s ecosystem. France, Germany, Italy and Spain are all hot export markets for ATLS, while inputs mainly come from the Asia-Pacific region. However, new markets are opening in Africandestinations.

“It depends on the global situation in the market,” Channoufi explained, highlighting the importance of being ready to adapt to a sometimes unpredictable environment. “We are well organised to be flexible, adapting to last minute changes to fulfil the demands of our partners and clients.” 

Africa’s infrastructure issue 

Despite the clear interest in the region and the potential it provides, Africa remains a tricky market in the airfreight sector due to the limited facilities in the region.  

Tunisia, for example, has seven international airport but only one main international airport in use at the moment for 95% of air cargo traffic “ Tunis Carthage Airport”, limiting the amount of flights that can go in or out of the hub. Regional authorities have noted the challenges around this already, looking to rectify it through the addition of other facilities in the near future.  

“In the coming years, the government are planning to create a new free logistics area close to the airports and ports, which will make sure the country is ready to act as a hub,” Channoufi highlighted. “In the next five years, Tunisia will be the gate to Africa.” 

READ: Airfreight faces a rocky 2024

 Multimodal moves 

With the risk of instability and the challenges around infrastructure, multimodal transportation has become a crucial element of operations. In North Africa, there is a new route being created that will cross domestic countries into sub-Saharan countries, creating opportunities for sea to road to air.  

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Channoufi stated. “There is not a lot of integrated connections, so that’s one of the things we are working together to lift, linking new solutions.”  

Picture of James Graham

James Graham

James Graham is an award-winning transport media journalist with a long background in the commercial freight sector, including commercial aviation and the aviation supply chain. He was the initial Air Cargo Week journalist and retuned later for a stint as editor. He continues his association as editor of the monthly supplements. He has reported for the newspaper from global locations as well as the UK.


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