New cargo carrier begins in Africa
A new cargo carrier is set to commence regular flights into Africa from Dube TradePort, home to King Shaka International Airport in Dube, South Africa, in February.
Khuphuka Kings Airways, a new local airline owned by Khuphuka Investments Holdings, has secured scheduled flights between Durban and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, with stopovers in Ndola, Zambia.
The airline is poised to utilize three cargo aircraft, including two Il-76s and one Antonov- AN 12. Although Khuphuka Kings Airways will initially commence operations in the cargo field, plans are in place to also introduce passenger aircraft to the route and to later expand into other parts of Africa.
The International Air Transport Association's airline industry forecast for the period 2013-2017 indicates that Africa is the fastest-growing region in the world in terms of airfreight volumes.
“We are working to build rapid cargo growth and aim to significantly increase direct air services to and from King Shaka International Airport, transforming KwaZulu-Natal into South Africa’s primary alternative gateway,” Saxen van Coller, Dube TradePort Corporation CEO, said. "In broad terms, our cargo strategy is to target routes in East, Central and West Africa before looking to expand globally, inclusive of the Far East, North America and Europe. The launch of this new route will most certainly serve to increase connectivity between Durban and Central Africa, assisting in the generation of economic efficiencies for our local business community.”
The AN 12, with a carrying capacity of 20 tonnes, will assist in supplementing loads on the route, while the two Il-76 planes each have a carrying capacity of 46 tonnes.
“We are hugely excited by the overwhelming response we have received from all our stakeholders who have become aware of our airline. Since initially pitching the idea, we have been inundated with requests from major freight forwarders and their clients who are eager to join us in making a success of this new venture," Musa Mdluli, Khuphuka Kings Airways chairman, said.
"This investment will undoubtedly have a positive knock-on effect in terms of other enterprises within the Province, providing them with unprecedented access to growing numbers of countries on the continent,” Michael Mabuyakhulu, KwaZulu-Natal's MEC for economic development and tourism, said. “Additionally, we have been working hard to position KwaZulu-Natal as the official gateway to Africa, creating an appetite for those wanting to invest in the continent. With the launch of Khuphuka Kings Airways and the expansion of connectivity between Durban and the rest of Africa, there is growing interest by potential investors looking to take up such opportunities.”
It is estimated that no fewer than 85 percent of KwaZulu-Natal-based companies with goods destined for other parts of Africa deliver their airfreight to Johannesburg by road in order to utilize flights from O.R. Tambo International Airport. With the introduction of new scheduled flights from Durban into various parts of Africa, local companies will be in a position to reduce transport costs and time by negating the need for the roadfreight leg.
“We are proud to be involved with a local organization which is investing in an airline to service Africa,” Bridgette Gasa, Dube TradePort Corporation’s chairperson, said. “On the back of poor road and rail networks linking major African cities, air transport is essential for intra-African business. Driving this integration among African countries will continue to be critical in terms of creating an open environment for business – an environment which allows goods and people to transcend borders more freely.”