New B777 freighter aircraft for horticulture export


The Ethiopian Government has plans to increase its cargo flights and destinations for its three main horticultural products; flowers, vegetables and fruits. Haileselassie Tekie, the Director General of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency (EHDA) said it is a good arrangement because it will help exporters manage the cost of transportation. The government is subsidizing a cargo facility and helping Ethiopian Airlines with the project.
According to information obtained from the Public Relations Department of Ethiopian Airlines Ethiopian has a plan to deploy the B777 freighter aircraft for carriage of Flowers, fruits and vegetables, and this brand new air craft will have a capacity of 105 tons. Ethiopian has four B777F on order, two of which will be delivered in October and November of this year respectively.
The B777F aircraft is known for its long range capability, cargo uplift and reduced fuel consumption.
Currently ET is the largest cargo operator in Africa with a fleet of two B747-200, two MD-11Fs, and two B757Fs. The two B747s have 100 tons of capacity each and the two MD-11Fs with 85 tons of capacity each are specifically allocated for the export of horticultural products from Ethiopia.
However, actual numbers of daily and weekly flights depend on the volume of horticultural products available for export. At current, weekly flights range from 10 to 14 with B747s and Md-11Fs.
“Very recently we have been working on deploying additional Boeing 777 cargo flights which will be fully engaged in the transportation of vegetables and fruits to the international market,” said Haileselassie adding that 50,000 hectares of land has been allotted for the development of vegetables and fruits.
Preparations are also underway to undertake horticulture development in areas located in Bahir Dar, Debre-Berhan, Gondar, Mekelle and Raya localities.
The identified lands are in the five development corridors across the country proposed by the Ethiopian government and are expected to create linkages with local out growers and commercial farms.
“The performance of particularly the vegetable and fruits exports is not as such very significant but a significant change in the past two years has occurred, with presently reaching on average USD 45 million annual exports,” Haileselassie told Capital.
He also said the performance of this sector is 100 percent better than the achievement of the past but compared to Khat and exportable commodities, the performance of the vegetables and fruits is still considered to be at a minimum level.
The reason mentioned was that there was no identified delineated area identified by the cluster with full facilities of infrastructures like roads, power supply and cool chain management and other things.
EHDA said it has secured USD 250 million in the just ended Ethiopian fiscal year 2012/13 from export of horticultural products. 
The products were mainly exported to Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America. Currently there are some seven foreign companies which have engaged in horticulture development on 1050 hectares in the just ended fiscal year.
So far, the export of horticultural products has concentrated to Europe through Ethiopian’s European hub in Liege (Belgium), but there are plans to diversify the destinations to Moscow (Russia) and Hong Kong (China) with the former to be introduced in 2013.
Ethiopian which claims to be the largest cargo operator in Africa with 6 dedicated freighter aircrafts, boosted by the growth of perishable exports from Ethiopia has been expanding its cargo network and fleet. Today, the airline operates to 25 cargo destinations in Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.
In 2012-13, Ethiopian plans to introduce two B777F, the first in Africa, and to open cargo services to places such as Istanbul, Turkey in the short term and, in the medium to long term, add destinations in Europe, the Americas and Asia such as Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Brazil.
By the end of its 15 year Vision 2025 Strategy, Ethiopian plans to uplift 710,000 tons of cargo using 15 jet aircrafts.
Ethiopian is planning to achieve the above mentioned goals by planning to build a large cargo terminal (both dry and perishable), which will have a capacity of 1.2 million tons. 
The perishable cargo terminal reportedly will be, in terms of capacity, one of the biggest in the world, aiming to be bigger than that of Amsterdam Schipol airport and the Dubai Flower Center.
The construction will be conducted in phases. Bids for the construction have been submitted and are being evaluated.