Mpumalanga Province Freight Data Bank > Aviation > Freight

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Various domestic and regional destinations are served from KMIA as shown in Figure 7, international air freight destinations are served via the various International airport. Regional flights to Vilankulu in Mozambique are also available.

Figure 7: Destination served from KMIA

Air Cargo World Trends

After years of steady growth from 2003, air cargo traffic has faced a severe downturn, linked to the global economic conditions and a slump in consumer and therefore manufacturing demand. However, most in the forecasting community remain convinced that the market will recover, as economic fundamentals are expected to once again create a real demand for the transportation of goods, particularly by air.

Air freight offers the advantage of speed compared to other means of transport, particularly advantageous for some products like high technology or perishable goods.

It offers additional value by freeing up capital more quickly, as the value of goods transported by ship for example, is locked in over longer journey times. As borrowing is more difficult today and liquidity key, this benefit of air transportation is now even more valued by customers and freight forwarders. Finally this is often taken for granted, but sending goods by air has the additional benefit of being probably the most secure method of transport for high value goods. This is an important factor when transporting goods in regions of the world where security threats, such as piracy, have increasingly become a serious consideration.

Airbus World air cargo forecast [Source: AIRBUS Global Market Forecast 2009-2028]
International Freight Traffic Shares

This section presents International Freight Traffic Shares for various regions of the world including Africa as a total of the overall total market share. The data is presented for the years 1985 and 2005.

Figure 27: International Freight Traffic Shares by Region - 1985

It is shown in Figure 27 above that Africa as a region enjoyed 5.0% of the international freight market share in 1985, which as can be seen in Figure 28 below has since decreased by 2% in 2005.
  Figure 28: International Freight Traffic Shares by Region " 2005 


Airlines of the Asia/Pacific regions achieved the highest share of air traffic of about 38% while the European and North American airlines saw their shares decline to 31.2% and 18.3% respectively, in 2005.

Freight Forecast for Africa

International freight traffic in Africa has tended to grow rapidly than domestic traffic, and in the 20 year period between 1985-2005 freight traffic has more than doubled while domestic freight traffic stayed almost unchanged as shown in Figure 29.

Figure 29: Africa freight traffic forecast
World Freight Forecast

World wide international freight traffic has being growing exponentially in the 20 year period between 1985-2005 and it is expected to follow this trend till the year 2025. World wide domestic traffic on the other hand has been growing steadily in the same period and it is not expected to differ much in the year 2025.

ICAO world freight traffic forecasts.
African Air Freight Market

Goods exported from Africa have been primary raw materials, as well as fresh produces like flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, the countries emerging today are showing interest in African markets and capabilities, with places like China, keen to safeguard supplies of oil and other raw materials. However, this interest is not just limited to natural resources. For example, Indian manufacturer TATA Motors has targeted Africa for vehicle production. In 2008, the company announced that it would build a bus manufacturing plant in Mombasa, Kenya.

The plant, which will produce between 10 and 60 buses per month, will boost sales, as they will not attract import duty and therefore cost 25% less when locally manufactured. This will also allow TATA to supply vehicles to the neighbouring markets of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi. TATA consider Africa a key emerging market for its products.

With growth in this sort of inward investment, beyond mining or farming for example, economies will benefit and grow, leading to an increased need for air freight. Today, the highest number of FTKs goes to Europe and North America, but in the coming years other emerging markets including China will represent a bigger part of the trade from this continent.

Regional and International freight destinations points


South African Air Freight Market

Air freight information in South Africa is in its early stage of computerisation although it has been recorded for some time now at certain airports. Air freight information that is made available is supplied as cargo tonnage which is useful for capacity planning and to a limited extend, economic projections. Some of the major air freight facilities are shown in Figure 32.

Figure 32: Major air freight facilities in South Africa [source:]

Air freight information at Cape Town, OR Tambo, Kruger Mpumalanga International airports has been acquired and is presented below. Air freight records for Mala Mala airfield are not available and will not be presented here.

Air Freight Stats at OR Tambo airport

Air Freight Stats at Cape Town airport

Air Freight Stats at KMIA airport

Total air freight tonnages presented above for major air freight airports in South Africa, which clearly shows the high level of cargo handled at OR Tambo International Airport with respect to others airports in the country. Import air freight at OR Tambo exceeds export which is due largely because of the fact that most parcels from abroad going to other provinces go through this air facility.

Import cargo levels at Cape Town International airport are about 10% of the levels at OR Tambo while exports are about 20%. What is of interest is the fact that exports at CPT are higher than imports for the period under consideration, which could be related to a high level of export perishable cargo at the coast.

The data at KMIA (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) is presented for the period 2007-April 2010. Here also, imports far exceeds exports which could be driven by industry importing equipment for their operations which is a sign of an active industry which is working but the province is not earning the forex it needs. The decline since 2008 is linked to the global financial down-turn which started in New York in 2008.

The information as presented is of limited use since the actually commodities are not known accurately, commodity information is vital for future economic planning and forecasting. This is one area of air freight research that still needs a lot of attention.

Air Cargo Operations

In a typical business environment, a buyer will place an order for an item from the manufacturer/supplier which is delivered by road if the buyer is nearer but high value and perishable items are generally shipped by air for speed and safety. The parcel is packaged and handed to a courier company which takes the item to the cargo terminal at the airport. The parcel is air shipped and delivered to the client on the other side which results in a payment as depicted in Figure 34.

Figure 34: Product chain supply 

At a cargo terminal, parcels arrives at the reception mainly through freight forwarding companies or brought by individual owners and then documentation is created, since cargo cannot move without documentation. Due to the rapid movement of large volumes of cargo, electronic data processing is essential to control flow of cargo through the terminals with a high level of accuracy and reliability.

In addition the documentation must be available to a large number of persons who are separated in the system, both spatially and temporally.


Figure 35: Air Cargo Flow within cargo airport

Figure 35 shows a simplified form of a typical cargo terminal operations flow and control for the export side.

Reservations of space are made by checking computer records of the current status of space available on individual flights. Then freight can be scheduled to arrive in time for the outgoing flight. At reception, the freight is weighted and checked, an airway bill is produced, then it is computerised from an on-line terminal, and an on-line manifest is printed out. In conjunction with flight data, the individual consignment information is aggregated into the flight tally for loading purposes.

The freight is sorted at reception into small, heavy, and special or out-of-gauge freight and is temporarily stored in the terminal stacks. Cargo is moved into the flight assembly area in accordance with the flight tally.


Cargo Handling Chain

Air cargo arrives at the terminal in two forms: as large number of small consignments that require sorting, storing, and batching before transfer to the aircraft or as containerized large unit loads, requiring far less handling at the cargo terminal itself.


Figure 36: Material flow at export cargo terminal

Figure 36 illustrates how export cargo flows through the airport terminal. Incoming cargo for export passes through the reception area, is moved through the documentation area (where it undergoes count, checks, weighing, measuring, and labelling), and either is passed directly into a pre-flight assembly line-up or is placed in a short-term storage area, from which it is eventually transferred into pre-flight assembly.

Next, the cargo is moved into the flight assembly area, the nature of which depends on whether the freight is to be carried by a passenger-cargo or by all-cargo aircraft. From the flight assembly area, flight loads of freight move to the final staging area and then across the cargo or passenger apron to their outbound flight.


Figure 37: Material flow at import cargo terminal

Figure 37 shows that import cargo can similarly arrive on mixed payload or all cargo flights. On arrival, it is passes through an initial holding before sorting and check-in. After sorting, cargo requiring customs clearances goes to in-bond storage, from there by way of customs clearance to a cleared bond storage area, and eventually to the receiver via import delivery.

Domestic cargo, on the hand, requires no customs clearance and proceeds directly from the check-in area to a pre-delivery hold area, where it remains pending arrangement of delivery.


Volumes and Freight Capacity Analysis

Although most airports are capable of handling air freight in some capacity, the size and form of the cargo terminal facilities vary substantially. The degree of sophistication provided depends on the following factors:

  • The mix and flow characteristics of the cargo.
  • The characteristics of the surface and air vehicles.
  • Materials handling, documentation, and communication techniques.