Swissport: one handler's strategy in Africa

Written by: Alwyn Brice |
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Swissport continues to pump funds into the African continent, with a view to reinforcing and enlarging its existing operation there.

In line with this, Swissport Tanzania has revealed plans to invest a total of Sh4.08bn (around £1.2m) this year, which comfortably exceeds last year's total of Sh3.65bn. According to Swissport’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrisho Yassin, the money will be spent on ground equipment at Kilimanjaro International airport and put towards improving export handling facilities.

Yassin commented that aviation technology was changing rapidly and that in order to remain competitive, it was essential to stay ahead of trends and invest heavily in the sector. To that end, Swissport has put an impressive Sh40bn into African cargo handling infrastructure, ground support equipment and information technology over the last five years.

In addition, it has also constructed a Sh26.5bn warehouse and expanded its export cold room facility at Julius Nyerere International airport. The warehouse itself has an annual throughput capacity of 80,000 tonnes, which gives an indication of the extent of the freight operation. Yassin spoke to GHI about some of the details involved.

“At Kilimanjaro, to further enhance operational performance and the reliability of our services, we are planning to purchase a high loader, passenger boarding steps, conveyor belts and toilet service vehicles. This is in line with our equipment replacement plan. All these will be imported from our preferred suppliers, who are based in Europe.

“We are planning to refurbish the perishable handling facility at Kilimanjaro, but ultimately this will depend on the approval of our refurbishment plan by the airport authority. We constructed the facility in 1990 under Build-Own-Transfer terms and subsequently passed on the ownership to the Airport Authority in 2013. We have been leasing the facility since then. The Authority is responsible for maintaining the facility. But we have been asked by our customers to intervene where necessary in order to improve the performance of the cold storage facility and consequently further enhance our service quality.”

And finally, the African cargo outlook for 2018?

“In Tanzania, we expect cargo volumes in 2018 to remain stable. Our planned investments are intended to further enhance the quality of our services and consolidate our market position.”

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