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FAAN MD: How to aid seamless cargo facilitation at airportseconomic

Wole Shadare

Air cargo generates significant economic value for airports

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it was doing everything possible to put in place infrastructure that will aid seamless facilitation of cargo operations at various airports across the country.


The agency stated that it had also recognised the huge significance of the air cargo sector to its operations; the reason the Federal Government, as part of the nation’s aviation roadmap, designated some airports as cargo airports to aid the seamless facilitation of cargo within and outside the country.


The Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, disclosed this in his keynote address at a one-day cargo conference with the theme: “Functional Cargo Sector Management, Better Economy,” held in Lagos.


Yadudu further stated that for an efficient and sustainable airport cargo strategy, “we must understand where we are by carrying out cargo market and economic analysis, understanding cargo community perspective as well as efficient capacity and competitive position analysis.


“We must also define a cargo vision and development plan, as well as cargo policies development. Also, we must develop cargo infrastructure, cargo operations, and processes, as well as embrace technological innovations.”


The FAAN boss further  noted that in terms of infrastructure, the cargo terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Kano, Owerri, Enugu, Akure, Calabar, Ilorin, Jos, Makurdi, Minna, and Uyo had all been reconfigured to facilitate perishable and non-perishable cargo, with necessary infrastructure like digital cargo sheds, security scanners, and safety equipment among others.


He, however, said that the success of a cargo hub relied on a large number of stakeholders cooperating and synergising including shippers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, truckers, Customs, airlines, integrators, regulators and airports.
Yadudu reiterated that cargo development strategies relied on such a cargo ecosystem, hinting that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link, stressing that each of the cargo chain actors has a specific role and responsibility, yet they are all partners within the cargo community.


Highlighting the importance of cargo to aviation, he recalled that after the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 in 2019 leading to the reduction of aircraft and passengers to its lowest ebb, the air cargo sector came to the rescue of most airlines.


The pandemic, he noted, brought to prominence the importance of air cargo in the global space, wondering about the consequences of a non-existing or dysfunctional air cargo industry in the face of COVID-19 which brought the whole world to a standstill.


He posited that during the first 10 months of 2020, pasrecentlysenger traffic dropped by 63 per cent, according to the Airports Council International (ACI) annual world airport traffic report, but stated that the reduction in cargo growth was less dramatic, falling only by 11 per cent.


Despite the recent attention, Yadudu stated that the potential of cargo development may not be entirely clear to airports since cargo generally represents a limited share of airport revenues on average.


“Yet, beyond its financial value, air freight has a strategic value to airports as it is key to its customers and stakeholders, namely; the airlines, ground handlers, freight forwarders, shippers, Customs and other relevant government agencies.


“Additionally, air cargo generates significant economic value to the airports, enabling local trade, generating employment, and attracting new high-value industries. It is important to emphasise that air cargo’s contribution to employment and


economic output is substantial. Air transport carries around 35 percent of world trade by value and less than one per cent by volume,” he noted.
The broader socio-economic multiplier effect from air cargo, he added, can be difficult to accurately measure due to a general lack of cargo data and the complexity of isolating air cargo from the broader logistics sector.
The convener of CFF Cargo Conference, Dr. Kalu Peter, stated that statistics indicated that the balance of trade in cargo in Nigeria tilts largely more towards imports than exports, stressing that available figures showed that from the first six months of 2021, the volume of cargo imported into the country via air was put at 112, 949, 463, .51kg, while export for the same period came to 13, 593, 486.12kg; an indication that the country patronises more foreign-made goods without much to export in return

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