Ethiopia gains major cargo boost

01 September 2017
The new cargo terminal at Bole International Airport, pictured in April 2017. Source: Peter Shaw-Smith

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest cargo carrier in Africa, is set to benefit from a recently completed freight terminal in Addis Ababa.

The first phase of the new cargo terminal at Bole International Airport was inaugurated on 29 June, on the final day of the Second ICAO Meeting on Air Cargo Development in Africa, held in the Ethiopian capital.

Ethiopian Airlines, with its fleet of two B-757-260F and six B-777-200LRF freighters, needed the new facility to accommodate increased tonnage, including transhipments. It invested ETB2.75 billion (USD108 million) in the new terminal.

Designed by German engineering firm Unitechnik Systems and built by local contractor Varnero Construction, the cargo terminal is capable of accommodating two Boeing widebodies simultaneously. It has an annual storage capacity (for dry and perishable goods) of 1.2 million tonnes.

The first phase of the cargo terminal is expected to add up to 600,000 tonnes to annual freight capacity at Bole International. “Ethiopian Cargo will very soon have a capability equivalent to cargo terminals at Amsterdam Schiphol, Singapore Changi or Hong Kong,” said Abraham Tesfaye, facility planning manager at the airport.

Logistics include an automated ULD high-bay warehouse with 990 positions complete with four 15-ft elevating transfer vehicles (ETVs) and 30 workstations for build-up and break-down, all of which were delivered by Unitechnik together with partner AMOVA (formerly SMS Logistics and CTI Systems), under their ACUNIS joint venture. “This is the first project being carried out under the flag of ACUNIS”, said Unitechnik managing director Wolfgang Cieplik.

Unitechnik also installed 18 landside truck docks, eight airside docks and a small aisled pallet warehouse with 8,500 positions. A very narrow aisle (VNA) racking system and forklift trucks were delivered by Spain-based subcontractor Mecalux. Security subcontractors included Canada-based Avigilon (CCTV surveillance technology) and Netherlands-based Keyprocessor (access control system).

Ethiopia enjoys one of the fastest rates of economic growth in Africa, but it is dependent on exports of horticultural and agricultural produce.

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