A new warehouse for perishables inaugurated
Ethiopian Airlines is to construct cargo storage and a work area facility for both dry and perishable goods at a cost of up to USD 200 million.
Meanwhile, on March 9, the airline inaugurated a new warehouse for perishable goods that can accommodate four aircrafts’ cargo simultaneously, at a cost of 75 million birr. The new warehouse covers a total area of 3,700 sqm and is built in line with the highest international standard making Addis Ababa a major cargo hub. This warehouse has a controlled temperature ranging from 2 to 4 degree centigrade, which is very adequate for flower exporters, both in terms of temperature but also storage space and ease of access for big utility trucks.
The warehouse is situated next to a building that provides a one-stop service of customs, security, quarantine and other services for exporters.
The cold warehouse with a storage capacity of 65,000 tons per year, was built by Celtic Cooling of the Netherlands in just five months and effectively delivered flowers for Valentine’s Day, before the inauguration. The Dutch Embassy contributed to the initial studies of the construction of the warehouse which was fully financed and managed by Ethiopian Airlines. The existing cold storage facility will now be dedicated for meat exports.
“This is especially good news for exporters of perishable goods such as flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruits and meat. The new perishable cargo warehouse and our new fleet of B777 freighters have special cooling capabilities and temperature control enabling our exports to reach their destinations maintaining their quality and freshness,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines.
“Ethiopian Airlines has been a reliable partner in consistently delivering our products on time,” Zelalem Messele, President of the Ethiopian Horticultural Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA), said. “This Valentine period was a testing period for the new capacity and efficiency of Ethiopian. I am glad to say that they didn’t let us down and everything went very well. We are grateful for that,” he told attendees of the ceremony. He added though, that flower growers are unhappy about the steep prices they have to pay for the services.
Ethiopian owns two B777ER cargo airplanes with extended range capabilities and a capacity of loading 100 tons at a time. It also has two MD11 freighters with a capacity of loading 850,000 quintals. “We can offer four flights’ service per day now. But the demand currently is not more than two flights per day. We expect that it will double by next year and we are prepared for it ahead of time,” Tewolde said.
Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) envisions a rapid expansion in the export of flowers, vegetables, herbs and meat products. Efficient transportation is a factor for the success of this plan. Addisu Legesse, Board Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines, agrees that such an investment by Ethiopian is crucial as the export of flowers is continually increasing. “This facility would enable the airline to earn more income but also reinforces the confidence of exporters to increase their production because of the availability of such facilities and an efficient transportation system,” he said. Addisu is confident that Ethiopian will continue to play a vital role in the country’s economy in general and the GTP in particular.
The CEO on his part stated that in accordance with the airline’s ‘Vision 2025’ and its national obligation to support the country’s export growth, Ethiopian has already placed an order for four additional B777 cargo airplanes and is finalizing preparations to build one of the biggest cargo terminals in the world for both dry and perishable cargo, with an annual storage capacity of 1.2 million tons.
The construction of the largest cargo warehouse with cold stores, which is expected to cost up to USD 200 million, will start as soon as the required finance is secured from international banks. The construction will be conducted in two phases. Two major companies have submitted their proposals and the Airline has chosen ICF from Germany, which is also supposed to be involved in the arrangement of the financing. “So far, five banks from the US, Turkey, China, South Africa and France have submitted their proposals. We plan to obtain the money from the bank with the lowest interest rates and a better payment system for us and start the actual construction [of the warehouse] in a short period time,” he said.
Ethiopian, the largest cargo operator and fastest growing airline in Africa, currently operates six dedicated cargo aircraft to 24 destinations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia through its two hubs - Addis Ababa and Liege, Belgium. It is the first airline in Africa to operate the B777 cargo airplane as well.