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Restrictive air accords big barrier to thriving intra-African trade

RESTRICTIVE air transport agreements are big barriers to a thriving African logistics sector Africa, says Kenya Airways general manager Dick Murianki

25 February 2019 - 19:00

RESTRICTIVE air transport agreements are big barriers to a thriving African logistics sector Africa, says Kenya Airways general manager Dick Murianki.

'We send freighters within Africa, leaving Nairobi full, and they come back empty; we have to fill them with ballast,' he told London's Loadstar at the recent Air Cargo Africa conference in Johannesburg.



'It makes it very expensive to operate when we have to cost-in the return journey,' he said.



But Astral Aviation CEO Sanjeev Gadhia had high hopes of the recently signed African Free Trade agreement.



'It's common knowledge that Nigeria gets its beef from Brazil or Australia - why not South Africa? Flowers go from Kenya to Europe, and sometimes back to Africa.' he said.



'Intra-Africa trade is a work in progress. I want to see African consumers consume from each other,' said Mr Gadhia.



Said Ethiopian Cargo managing director Fitsum Abadi: 'The world knows Africa as one - so Africa should become one. The biggest challenge is integration. We have disintegration of services, markets and countries. We want to see it all integrated.'



Said Kenya Airways CEO Jan de Vegt: 'The EU, US and China are big land masses with little or no customs. Here, there are 54 countries all with different rules. It makes it very difficult.'



Said Kenya Airways Mr Murianki: 'We have a situation where we are open to outsiders, but have closed doors to our neighbours. It's very hard to get access, and concessions.'



Ethiopia is particularly restrictive with its air transport market, while Kenya has liberalised its skies - only to see them being dominated by Middle Eastern carriers.



Amid calls for there to be 'four or five big African airlines', Mr Murianki said he wanted preferential treatment in his domestic market.



'Protectionism is not always a bad thing. I advocate some measured protections. Total liberalisation will hurt private carriers.



'We want to create an environment for local companies to be able to compete in the market. Most African carriers are small and don't have the financial muscle to compete.



'We are telling the government that those which want to operate fifth-freedom rights in Kenya should collaborate with us. Otherwise we'll never grow; the customers will never know we can do it,' said Mr Murianki.


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