Following President Obama’s historic state visit to Kenya in July for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015, a cargo carrier from Nairobi took the opportunity to make the case for establishing more direct cargo flights between the United States and Kenya in order to foster trade between the two nations and attract more global airfreight business.
Jared Oswago, the divisional manager at Kenya-based Siginon Aviation, said that Kenya should follow the example of other African countries such as Senegal and South Africa, which have secured several nonstop flights to the U.S. He suggested a Nairobi flight to either New York City or Washington, D.C., as being the most feasible.
“Currently, we’re exporting cargo to the U.S. through various connecting flights,” Oswago said. “The multiple connections make the trip longer and compromises on-time performance, as there may be connection delays or missed connections. Multiple handling in the hubs exposes the cargo to mishandling which, at times, may reduce or degrade the cargo quality. The cases of pilferage are also prone in the connections.”
To address security concerns U.S. regulators may have, Oswago said, Siginon Aviation recently launched a new US$10 million air cargo terminal at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which meets strict global security standards, including cargo screening machines on the airport apron and rigorous safety and security training for its staff. The Siginon Aviation terminal also placed physical barriers, such as manned gates and 24/7 CCTV surveillance, as well as access control to ensure the warehouses remain “sterile,” and restricts access to only authorized individuals and vehicles.
The terminal also has a small cool-chain perishables handling center, comprised of an express corridor that maintains perishable cargo in the specified cool temperatures up to a few minutes prior to loading on to the aircraft. “This is a unique service we offer as most of our competitors would expose the cargo to the unfriendly temperatures while awaiting loading onto the aircraft,” Oswago added.
Kenya, he said, mostly imports medical and engineering equipment, industrial products, aircraft engines and chemicals from the U.S., while exports include textiles and perishables, such as flowers and vegetables.