By Ahmed Saad
Food industry exports represent nearly 20% of total air cargo products, and the sector of agricultural crops, especially vegetables and fruits, makes up the largest share of the percentage.
Exporters said the lack of space in aircrafts limits the growth of the food industries sector, especially agricultural crops.
Deputy Chairman of the Air Transport and Logistics Services Division in the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Ayman Al-Sheikh, said air cargos of exported food industries are limited and unsatisfactory. This is due to the low reliance on air cargo in general, as well as the lack of good marketing for Egyptian food industries, and the low quality of packaging, which negatively affects exports.
He added that fruits and vegetables exports represent nearly 65% of total Egyptian exports, noting that exports transported by air amount to nearly 150 tonnes per day during the peak season that starts in October and lasts until May.
The lack of space on board of the national carrier’s aircrafts (EgyptAir) that fly to Europe reduces Egypt’s ability to achieve large revenues in the food industries and fruits and vegetables exports, according to Al-Sheikh.
He said EgyptAir cargo acquires 80% of the total air cargo in Egypt, explaining that EgyptAir’s airlines are more efficient in terms of shipping from Asia to Europe, especially from China.
He affirmed the importance of providing facilitations to exporters of vegetables and fruits, especially in terms of the procedures followed in the Cargo Village, on the condition of the presence of a large X-ray device to speed up the process of cargo screening.
Al-Sheikh noted that 20% of Egyptian agricultural and food exports get damaged due to the poor infrastructure of Egyptian airports.
International air cargo was estimated at 90m tonnes in fiscal year 2014/2015. Egypt’s share of it amounted to 266,000 tonnes, representing only 0.3% of total international air cargo.
EgyptAir Cargo managed to achieve revenues of 150% in FY 2014/2015, compared to last year, which is 140% more than planned for FY 2014/2015.
Chairman of EgyptAir Cargo Bassem Gohar said the company has agreed to buy two A330-200F aircrafts in order to support its air cargo fleet the upcoming years.
The capacity of the new aircrafts is 120 tonnes, and they are planned to begin work by 2018.
EgyptAir is considering supporting the fleet with two cargo aircrafts of model A321F, with capacity of 27 tonnes per plane and flight, in addition to providing space on passenger planes.
About 32% of total Egyptian exports were transported by air to the European market, while 55% went to the Middle East, 2% to the Far East, 4% to the US market, and 7% to the African market, according to Gohar.
EgyptAir Cargo signed a contract with Sarco Sea shipping and the Chadian Company for Commerce to launch regular flights between Cairo and N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, during the upcoming period.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a previous statement that the demand on air shipping is improving after years of stagnation, and it is expected that the size of international air shipping will improve with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.1% over the next five years.
Member of Exporters Division and Chairman of the transport committee in the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Tarek Darwish, said EgyptAir acquires nearly 60% of air shipping traffic, adding that Egyptian fruit and vegetable exports make up 80% of total exports. The rest of the percentage is divided between food industries, cotton clothes and publications. Gulf markets are considered to have the highest demand on Egyptian products.
Darwish also highlighted the lack of space on board of cargo aircrafts. He expected an increase of 100% in Egyptian exports, especially agricultural and food products, if enough space is provided on aircrafts, in addition to extra aircrafts especially provided for air cargo.
He noted that the conditions of the air cargo sector in Egypt have improved throughout this year with the activation of the damage reduction system in the Cargo Village in Cairo International Airport.