Air Djibouti – a new star in the horizon
Dawit W. Michael Gebre-ab and Moussa Houssein, Djibouti airport cargo manager with Ismail Vadi, Member of Executive Council for Roads and Transport, Gauteng Provincial Government and Clr. Mondli Gungubele, Executive Mayor, City of Ekurhuleni at AIR CARGO AFRICA 2015.
Taking a leap in the right direction, the national carrier of Djibouti will start operations on the cargo side of the business. The airline launched its official flight services from the African market at the ‘Air Cargo Africa 2015’ international summitfor the global air cargo fraternity.Djibouti has been battling off the challenges of air cargo being at low levels, especially for a shipping hub and free zone. Located at an airport in such a region is ‘an opportunity waiting to happen’ and the scope for cargo traffic is immense. Djibouti is at the Horn of Africa and at the cross roads of three continents. Taking advantage of its geographical location, huge volumes of cargo either originates from this area or is destined for this area. Djibouti airport is ideally placed to serve as a transshipment hub benefitting from the Djibouti ports exponential increase in volumes over the last few years. Its prediction for the growth, therefore, is mainly in the sea to air cargo business, moving forward. On the day when the airline first scaled the skies of Djibouti, back in 1964, the then French Somaliland received a breath of fresh air when the legendary airline flew primarily passenger and cargo flights from Djibouti to Ethiopia and Yemen. A little recap on history, the airline operated under the newly independent Republic of Djibouti in the late 70’s and spent ten years under Air France tutelage, serving also international destinations in the Middle East and Europe. Towards the dawn of the millennium, the legendary airline Air Djibouti, after the outbreak of civil war in the Congo, had ceased operations. In its new avatar, Air Djibouti’s legendary service is now reborn and beams new hope for 2015. It takes strategic planning for the development of a port that is strategically placed at the crossroads of all international shipping routes and makes Djibouti port the natural hub in East Africa. Dawit W. Michael Gebre-Ab, Senior Director, Strategic Planning, Air Djibouti explains “There are currently three ports, container, multi-purpose and oil which are constantly improving and upgrading the capacity to facilitate the continuing growth in cargo throughput bringing about the safe and efficient handling of import and export. But there are four new ports under construction this year and two to commence next year bringing the total number to eight ports with the current multi purpose port being replaced by one of the new ones. In fact the total transport related infrastructure investment program currently exceeds the US$14 billion mark. This includes two brand new airports, a ship repair yard, bunkering services, two railway lines to mention but a few.” Gebre-Ab continues, “With an infrastructure unparalleled in the region, Djibouti airport and the national carrier will benefit from the proximity to the region’s busiest cargo ports. Air Djibouti has a high developmental agenda which in turn will fuel the economic growth of the African continent.”The airline will serve as a viable option for the air cargo out of Djibouti to the rest of the world. This will, in the years to come, translate into a node that will redefine the future of aviation in Africa.