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Ethiopian Airlines plane on fire at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Dramatic images have been posted on social media showing flames billowing from an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft at Shanghai Pudong Airport on Wednesday night.

The aircraft was only carrying freight so no passengers were on board, however there is no information as to any injuries to crew or staff on the ground.

The damage to the aircraft is so substantial it's likely unlikely the aircraft will be salvaged. 

According to local media reports, the aircraft had arrived from Brussels just before midday (local time) and was scheduled to leave for São Paulo in the afternoon.


How logistics is evolving in Ghana amid pandemic

Ghana has been an attractive investment hub for the logistics sector in recent years. Being one of the WFP logistics hubs, the West African country ensured that the delivery of vital medical and humanitarian supplies to other countries in the continent reached on time when commercial air transport is at a virtual standstill during the pandemic.

The world is undergoing the deepest recession since World War II with the global economy expected to shrink by 5.2 percent in 2020, according to June 2020 Global Economic Prospects by the World Bank. Hence, industrial commodity exporters, such as Ghana, have to cope with weaker external demand and lower prices for oil and metals. Due to this domestic disruption, the gross domestic product (GDP) is similarly anticipated to contract in 2020. While agricultural commodity exporters are also expected to experience a collapse in economic activity.

According to the International Trade Centre and Association of Ghana, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) constitute about 85 percent of businesses in Ghana but the pandemic has brought several challenges affecting their operations and business growth. To support the SMEs, Ghana Coronavirus Alleviation Programme is put in place which illustrates the government’s backing to the industry.

Ghana has been an attractive investment hub for logistics in recent years. Last year, Agility has set up a warehouse park at the Ghanaian port city of Tema, about 16 miles east of Accra. Agility is part of the Pandemic Supply Chain Network (PSCN), a coalition of United Nations Agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as the World Economic Forum and its private sector members. The company has offered WHO free warehouse space to stockpile medical supplies in Ghana and its other centres.

In the fight against Covid-19, Swissport is chosen as the cargo handler at both the UN hubs in Liège Airport, Belgium and Kotoka International Airport, Accra for moving medical supplies across the world. Chris Goodsir, country manager, Swissport Ghana explains, “During these times of crises, it is imperative that the handling of the cargo continues, as this brings the necessary aid to the various countries in need. Swissport Ghana was extremely privileged to assist the WFP in their recent activities and provided the necessary support to them in Ghana. At this stage, we will continue to assist the WFP in their operations and are fully available for any further operations from the government as and when needed.”

In 2019, the combined throughput of volume for Swissport Ghana and Air Ghana Perishable Centre (AGPC) was 36,000 tonnes. In Q1, the company only managed to handle 7,600 tonnes, far below the expected volumes for 2020. This is directly correlated to the drop in volumes due to Covid-19 but it still believes to see healthy signs of recovery.

In May, DHL Global Forwarding transported personal protective equipment (PPE) shipment as part of its dedicated 100 tonnes weekly air freight solution from China to Ghana via Dubai using UbuntuConnect, a specific air freight solution for the China-Africa lane. From Accra, the shipment is distributed across the country to equip front-line healthcare workers. Till now, DHL has transported two shipments to Ghana and expects more in the coming months.

The service was launched in response: to the lack of air freight capacity into the MEA region as several commercial passenger flights were grounded; and the demand for China’s PPE and essential goods. As parts of the region move into different phases in their response toward the Covid-19 outbreak in their respective countries, we are customising our forwarding solutions accordingly. With the situation stabilising and regular schedules coming back, we have now begun moving cargo via our commercial freight airline partners and expect more flights carrying various imported goods to the country in the coming weeks.”

Ensuring the continuity of supply to the continent, Bollore Logistics has started a special weekly cargo freight service between Europe and West Africa, the WARA AIR SERVICE. Every week, freight is transported via two or three all-cargo flights from Bollore Logistics' airport hubs in Liege and Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle, France. They cater to several destinations in the continent including Accra. The WARA AIR SERVICE is fully connected to the Bollore Logistics' global network and fed by similar charter programmes from Asia and North America thus providing integrated, end-to-end solutions.

The movement restriction has started to offer an opportunity for the continent to move away from traditional ways of trading and leveraging on innovative solutions to promote trade. Goodsir notes, “For the first time in our history in Ghana, we have had to manage the interaction with our shareholders and our clients, without the face-to-face interaction that we usually rely on. We have managed this by investing in the systems at our disposal. We have dedicated systems in place to monitor our daily performance on any device and with a click of a button; we can see where we stand with the volumes and adjust our staffing levels accordingly. This is ideal in managing the costs vs the volumes on a daily or weekly basis. This has proven invaluable over the last three months, with clear benefits.”

One of the key focus areas in Deutsche Post DHL Group’s growth agenda over the next five years is digitalisation – ‘Strategy 2025 - Delivering Excellence in the Digital World’. “Equally, we made investments into hiring local experts and strengthening our network in Africa will come a long way in ensuring that we can continue delivering excellence to our customers. As part of our strategy, we have recently launched myDHLi, a fully integrated online platform for freight forwarding customers, to access online services for full shipment visibility and control on one platform,” Mbaye observes.

Last year, Saloodo!, a digital road freight solution platform by DHL, to provide transparency, real-time visibility and efficiency to the regional road network was launched. “Saloodo! was rolled out during Covid-19 into all the African markets, as well as in KSA, Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf countries. We also successfully implemented our new Global Transport Management System (CargoWise One) across air, ocean and road freight in all West African countries, including Morocco, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and Kenya to provide customers with end-to-end shipment visibility,” Mbaye adds.

E-commerce is one of the most important and fastest-growing market sectors in Africa. A report published by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Africa’s online retail market in 2020 will potentially reach $75 billion by 2025.

In 2019, DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa announced the launch of an innovative mobile platform, DHL Mobile that would allow its customers in Sub Saharan Africa to track and coordinate the delivery of their shipments with greater ease and convenience. Currently, Ghana is one of the top three countries with the highest users. Morgan Uloko, country manager of DHL Express Ghana states, "The app has proven to be an exciting new addition to our service offering in Ghana as it offers several key benefits to customers, allowing them to access valuable features on the move. Our customers have adapted to digitalisation and we are excited to introduce this mobile application to our customers across the region. We are constantly working towards providing cutting-edge solutions that help to connect our consumers and business owners with the global market.”

Recently, DHL Express has picked up a minority stake in Link Commerce, a UK-based e-commerce firm that helped the logistics company develop its DHL Africa eShop platform.

By the end of March when the borders of Ghana closed leading to the cancellation of all passenger flights, which accounted for about 37 percent of the airlines' cargo capacity, Swissport’s business was affected. “With further restrictions regarding the stay of aircraft crews in Ghana, the airlines' capacity was reduced to 55 percent before Covid-19. We had to take strict measures and tough decisions to protect the business and reduce costs. In April, our total tonnage was down 36 percent compared to the previous year. In May, we saw an increase in charter aircraft, reducing the gap to 19 percent compared to 2019.

We believe that even though, according to IATA, the industry will not see pre-crisis passenger traffic until 2023, freight volumes will start to grow again earlier and at a faster rate,” Goodsir states.

He says that the company has learned a lot about managing cost structure and the benefits of working remotely. “With the support of Ghana Airport Cargo Centre (GACC), Swissport Ghana has now secured a full ground handling license. This allows us to enter the ground handling business and provide the same level of quality to passenger airlines that we are known for with our cargo clients. Doing so indicates the commitment of Swissport and GACC in Ghana and the belief that this is an emerging market for our business, even after the impact of Covid-19.”

Laboratory capacity in most African countries is equally bereft of modern facilities and the starting point should be investments in digital health tools, writes Babatunde Omilola, manager for public health, security and nutrition division at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) in a release.

To support Ghana during this pandemic, Zipline drones commenced the delivery of Covid-19 test samples collected from patients in more than 1,000 health facilities located in the rural areas of Ghana to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research laboratories in Accra. The service began on April 17, when 51 Covid-19 test samples were transported to Zipline's distribution centre in Omenako, Ghana. Zipline is also delivering samples from another distribution centre in Ghana to Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research. Even it is delivering masks and other personal protective gear, as well as medicine and blood, to medical facilities in Ghana during the coronavirus outbreak.

Swissport’s AGPC is a dedicated facility for the handling of perishable export cargo. With a 165 square metres fridge facility, the temperature can be maintained such that the produce remains fresh until it is time to be loaded onto the aircraft. Goodsir concludes, “Having the right facility to handle this type of cargo is essential for the export market of Ghana, as perishables equate to 90 percent of our total export volumes, which directly contributes to the Ghanaian economy.”

Covid-19 is an opportunity for the continent to take more concrete steps towards realising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by focusing on increasing local production capacity, investing in new technological developments, harmonising trade regulations, customs controls, and reducing both tariff and non-tariff barriers.

By: Shalini Nair



Sirika Projects Resumption of International Flights before October

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has rejected the October 15 date fixed for the resumption of international flights by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying flights may resume before October.

In a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued yesterday by NCAA to international airlines, the agency fixed October 15 for the resumption of international flights.

But in his reaction to the NOTAM, the minister, in his verifiable twitter handle, @hadisirika, said the federal government was yet to fix the date for resumption.

“International flight resumption date is not October. NAMA (Nigerian Airspace Management Agency) just issued a routine 90-day notice to airmen (NOTAM). In liaison with Health, Foreign Affairs and PTF COVID-19, we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, UAE etc. May be earlier than October.”

The minister also acknowledged that Europe, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) banned Nigerians from travelling to their destinations because of COVID-19 on the excuse that Nigeria is not conducting enough testing for the virus.

Earlier, NCAA had issued NOTAM that it is extending the closure of international air space until October 15.

The NOTAM was signed by NCAA’s Director General, Captain Musa Nuhu.

According to the NOTAM, “The federal government of Nigeria has extended the closure of our airports to all international flights with the exception of aircraft in a state of emergency. However, approval may be requested and granted to flight operations related to humanitarian aids, medical relief flights, alternative aerodrome in the flight plan and also those being used for extended diversion time operation, technical landing where passengers do not disembark and cargo flights and other safety related operations,” the NOTAM said.

NCAA also directed that requests should be addressed to Sirika.

NOTAM is international means of communication in aviation and information is issued through NAMA, which is in custody of the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) through which all information in aviation is communicated all over the world.

All aviation agencies, airlines and other aviation organisations pass their message through NAMA.

By: Chinedu Eze

VIPs Flouting Airport Protocols

It is hardly surprising that some highly-placed individuals have reportedly been disregarding protocols deployed by the Ministry of Aviation to ensure safe air travel in Nigeria amidst the still burgeoning coronavirus pandemic. The reopening was considered necessary in order to resuscitate the economy.

Three major such incidents have been reported in the Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports. Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, allegedly ignored efforts by officials to board him according to the rules.

Also, former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, allegedly assaulted Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, officials at the Kano Airport, while a prominent publisher was also reported to have disdained officials at the Abuja Airport.

FAAN tweeted that it would "do the needful" if ongoing investigations find the accused persons culpable. Also, on Thursday last week, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the 51st Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, warned that if found guilty the culprits could be jailed for two months or above, pay a fine or be additionally sanctioned.

The alleged misdemeanor of these aforementioned prominent citizens is just a sample of the gross indiscipline that pervades the Nigerian society at all levels. Nigerians generally do not believe in the rule of law, more especially as the law enforcement mechanisms of the country are very defective.

At the higher levels of society, most people believe that the law was not made for them, and that they could always peddle their influence and get away with anything.

This is one of the reasons that Nigeria failed, in spite of six weeks of near-total lockdowns, to prevent the community transmission of the coronavirus disease which is now ravaging the grassroots.

Countries around the world with higher tendencies for personal and communal discipline, such as Taiwan and Japan, have been able to tame the pandemic, while countries with typically recalcitrant citizen attitudes such as the United States of America and Nigeria have paid with uncontrollable rates of transmission.

We will be pleasantly surprised if the authorities follow through with their threats and sanction any of the guilty persons in a way that leaves the general public in no doubt about the Federal Government's resolve.

It is important to send the right message to other VIPs and air travellers, bearing in mind that it was through air travel that the disease came to Nigeria from Italy.

Even if we cannot send some of them to jail because of gubernatorial immunity, a hefty fine and suspension from the use of our airports for some time will surely hit the mark.

We hope the FAAN and Ministry of Aviation will not end up as the proverbial toothless bulldog that barks but cannot bite.

By: Emmanuel Okogba


United Kingdom

UK airports ‘will suffer £4bn pandemic hit’, industry body warns

The Airport Operators Association said nearly £2 billion was lost during lockdown.

UK airports will suffer a £4 billion hit from lost revenue this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, an industry body has warned.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said nearly £2 billion was lost in the four-month period between March and June alone, which is equivalent to around £15 million each day.

It anticipates that the finances of its members will continue to suffer throughout the rest of the year, putting up to 110,000 jobs at risk at airports and their supply chains.

Passenger numbers have fallen by as much as 99% during the crisis, with demand for travel collapsing and restrictions being introduced by governments around the world.

Heathrow said just 350,000 people travelled through the airport last month, down 95% on June 2019.

ACI Europe, which represents European airports, recently predicted that passenger numbers will not recover until 2024.

The AOA and airport chief executives have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on him to take urgent action to help the aviation industry.

They noted that the aviation industry has been “denied the kind of targeted support afforded to other sectors”.

The AOA wants relief from business rates for 2020/21 in line with support given to the hospitality and retail sectors, help with meeting employment costs when the furlough scheme ends, and the suspension of Air Passenger Duty for at least six months to stimulate demand.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “These projections reinforce the significant challenges that UK airports continue to face after the worst four months in the history of commercial aviation.

“Whilst we have seen passengers begin to return, passenger numbers are not expected to reach pre-Covid levels for a considerable period and airports will continue to face challenges and pressures unimaginable six months ago.

“Airports have done everything in their power to weather the storm and have done so without the specific Government support afforded to other sectors.

“That our airports lost close to £2 billion during the lockdown should serve as a wake-up call to Government and lead them to finally grasp the severity of the challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed and continues to pose to the sector.

“We cannot have a full national economic recovery without a thriving aviation sector.”

Virgin Atlantic restarts flights: Full destination list

After a three month hiatus, Virgin Atlantic has welcomed back passengers and restarted flights to destinations around the world.

To ensure the health and safety of customers and crew, the company say they are implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies.

What new safety measures are in place? These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories before every flight, ensuring no surface is left untouched. 

Social distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, and mask wearing will be required for all passengers throughout the journey.

All customers will be provided with a 'personal Health Pack' for their health and safety, which will contain three medical grade face masks to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel.

Customers will be given additional space onboard, some seats will not be available, and they will be marked with special pillows.

What changes will be made to the meal service?

The airline will be offering a simplified hot food service in all cabins, redesigned to limit interaction, enclosed and controlled from preparation in a Covid-safe, monitored environment to the moment it is served.

  • Economy and Premium Economy customers will now enjoy a “Fly safe, eat well” meal box, which incorporates a choice of two hot meals, cheese and biscuits and a dessert pot washed down with a choice of wine, beer, soft drinks and bottled water.

  • Upper Class customers will receive a choice of three hot meals, desserts, including cheese & biscuits and a ciabatta roll, all delivered to their seat on a tray.

  • All passengers will receive a second meal service which, on day flights from the UK.

What have Virgin Atlantic said?

Corneel Koster, chief customer officer, Virgin Atlantic said: “We will always ensure that health and safety remain our number one priority, whilst keeping our signature Virgin spirit and I am proud of all our teams who have been working tirelessly to implement new measures and evolve our customer experience.

"We are looking forward to welcoming customers back onboard, taking them to the skies safely and in true Virgin Atlantic style.”

“The health and wellbeing of our customers and crew is at the centre of all our operations and that includes social distancing at the airport and onboard wherever possible, meticulous cleaning of the aircraft and individual Health Packs for all customers, containing medical grade face masks, hand sanitizer and surface wipes.”

Which destinations are Virgin Atlantic flying to?

As travel restrictions around the world start to relax and customer demand increases, Virgin Atlantic say they will add more routes back into its network.

The first destinations to restart are:

  • Hong Kong

  • New York JFK

  • Los Angeles

Further routes will be added throughout August, September and October.


British Airways reaches agreement with its pilots

International Airlines Group (IAG) welcomed last night's announcement by British Airways' pilots' union BALPA that it intends to hold a consultative ballot of its members in relation to the proposed restructuring and redundancy agreement reached between the union and the airline. This is in response to the COVID-19 crisis affecting the aviation industry. BALPA has recommended to its members that they approve the proposals.

The ballot is due to close on 31 July 2020.  IAG will provide a further update at that time.

Source: British Airways

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