Statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) earlier in the year, indicated global capacity in 2022, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers was 3.0 per cent above 2021, at -4.5% for international operations, showing $201 billion freight movements by air for the past year.
In all these, freight movement by African airports played a significant role as cargo exports through the air grew.
Several cargo items were moved from Africa through its airports in 2022, majorly agricultural produce like rubber, tea, vegetables, yam tuber, cotton yarn, flowers, oil seeds, potato, tomato, cocoa, fish, palm kernel and corn, among others.
In this edition, Nairametrics takes a look at the Top 10 cargo airports on the continent.
Top 10 Cargo Airports in Africa
There are no fewer than 477 large and medium airports across Africa with Nigeria claiming 32 of such aerodromes.
Thirteen out of these aerodromes in Nigeria are designated as cargo airports by either the Federal or State governments, but sadly, only the Murtala Muhammed Airport is listed among the Top 10 cargo airports on the continent, while several factors, including a bad road network, insecurity, non-adherence to standards and non-government support prevent other airports in the country to be so listed.
Statistics released by the Airports Council International (ACI) Africa showed that 2.15 million metric tons of cargo transited through African airports in 2022, while the leading airports within the same period were:
1. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA)
According to ACI Africa, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) handled 363,204 tons of cargo in 2022, leading other airports on the continent in total cargo traffic.
2. Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Egypt. The airport has a cargo capacity of 400,000 tonnes annually and handled 333,536 tonnes of cargo in 2022.
Major cargo exported through the airport in 2022 included raw cotton, cotton yarn, rice, onions, garlic and citrus fruit that were exported through the airport in the past year, according to ACI.
3. Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport (OR Tambo)
OR Tambo International Airport) is the biggest airport in South Africa and the hub for South African Airways.
In 2022, the airport was ranked third in cargo volumes after 304,018 tonnes transited through it.
Some of the items airlifted through the airport were coal briquettes, corn, diamonds, fruits, minerals, sugar and wool.
4. Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
The Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is the primary hub for Ethiopian Airlines and the biggest airport in the East African country.
The airport was ranked the fourth busiest cargo terminal after handling 226,417 tonnes of cargo in the previous year.
Some of the items exported through the airport in 2022 included coffee, live animals, oilseeds, flowers and khat, which were exported to Europe and America. Ethiopia’s main export partner is Switzerland, which had 21 per cent of its total exports.
5. Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA)
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos is the busiest airport in West and Central Africa in passenger and cargo volumes.
According to the statistics released by ACI, the airport handled 204,649 tonnes in the past year.
The agricultural produce exported through the airport is cocoa beans, vegetables, palm kernel oil, cotton, cassava flour, cashew nuts, strawberry, chilli pepper and poultry products.
6. Entebbe International Airport
Entebbe International Airport is the largest and the only international airport in Uganda, a landlocked country in East Africa. During the period under review, 65,115 tonnes of cargo transited through Entebbe International Airport.
Some of the major agricultural products transported through the airport in 2022 were coffee, tea, cotton, copper, oil and fish.
7. Aeroport Mohammed V
Aeroport Mohammed V is a major airport in Morocco and is located in Casablanca. It is the main hub for its national carrier, Royal Air Maroc. The airport transported 64,573 tonnes of cargo in 2022.
The leading exports through the airports are citrus fruits, vegetables, industrial equipment, textiles, and phosphates and phosphate products.
8. Kotoka International Airport
The Ghanaian International Airport is operated by Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL). The only international airport in Ghana is served by several cargo airlines, including Air Ghana, Cargolux, DHL Aviation, Emirates SkyCargo, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo and Turkish Cargo.
The airport has a 10,000 metres square cargo warehouse facility, which was launched in 2016. Its annual cargo traffic in 2022 was 47,545 tonnes.
The principal export within the period was cocoa.
9. Blaise Diagne International Airport
Blaise International Airport serves as the main airport for Dakar, Senegal. Major cargo airlines operating from the airport are DHL Aviation and Magma Aviation. The airport recorded 37,225 tonnes in annual cargo traffic last year.
Senegal’s main exports through the airport were phosphate and fish.
10. Cape Town International Airport
Another South African airport that appeared among the Top 10 cargo terminals in Africa in the past year was Cape Town International Airport.
Like the Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport (OR Tambo), the airport handled cargo exports from South Africa, but on a smaller scale.
Cargo export is a niche market for African airports and it can serve as the mainstay of economic development of the continent if the governments provide all the amenities and financial support to farmers and exporters.
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