NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – Kenya’s booming flower industry continues to provide attractive grounds for airlines to compete in the cargo business.
Emirates Airlines is the latest carrier to offer cargo services with the launch of its direct flights from Nairobi to Amsterdam via Dubai from May 1.
The airline’s Regional Manager for East Africa Essa Ahmad says flowers are expected to make the bulk of the 400 tonnes of cargo that they will be transporting per month. using the extra belly capacity generated by the new flights.
Currently, Emirates SkyCargo transports 1,000 tonnes of flowers every month mostly into Amsterdam and other fruits and vegetables from Kenya and Ethiopia per month and hopes that the new initiative will assist Kenyan exporters to look for new markets in Europe
Emirates SkyCargo currently offers six 747-4000 Boeing freighters a week between Dubai and Amsterdam with several feeds from Kenya.
Amsterdam is a major freight hub and a renowned flower centre which makes it a key market for Kenya’s cut flowers.
Kenya is currently the largest supplier of cut flower to the European Union with a 31 percent market share with two thirds of these imports going to the Netherlands.
“We believe that the additional monthly capacity will enhance the timely delivery of fresh flowers to Kenya’s key market. This will in return increase exporters’ sales as well as generate increased revenues,” he said pointing out that this would make a positive contribution to the economy.
While he acknowledged that they are likely to face competition from established carriers like Kenya Airways, he is confident that they will offer value-added services that will set them apart from their competitors.
“Emirates has flourished under Dubai’s fully open skies policy where more than 120 carriers operate. We welcome competition and we are used to it,” Mr Ahmad said.
Globally, the cargo business which was hit hard by the recession has picked up by 28 percent, a situation that gives the airline the opportunity to capitalise and improve its business.
Air cargo industry in Africa has been projected to record double digit growth in the next two to four years especially now that the global economy has begun showing signs of recovery.