Air cargo volumes at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) has dipped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was revealed by cargo operators – Swiss port and Aviance Cargo when the Minister for Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda inspected the facilities to ascertain the preparedness of the cargo handlers in the wake of the viral outbreak.
The tour began with McDan Aviation, the base of the United States military.
Here, the Manager Julian Lartey says operations had ceased a week ago.
Julian Lartey said, “The passengers that come through here are the military officers that are on assignment or attachment. They are usually just transiting through here to other countries but as of last week we stopped all operations.”
At the cargo sections of Aviance and Swiss port, the operators said the recent travel restriction is having a major impact on their business.
“We are estimating at this point a 20-25 per cent decline in our import volumes following the travel restriction. We are yet to calculate the actual figures on the revenue side. But it is really substantial but we are managing the situation and we need to run operations, because we need the cargo to come in because we need the medications and the support,” Country Manager for Swissport Chris Goodsir said.
The Country Manager, however, assured they are doing their maximum best to ensure the safety of their staff through education and provision of appropriate safety gears. In addition, caution was being taken with regards to cargo coming in.
Despite the clear negative impact on the business and its financials, Mr Goodsir gave a firm assurance that staff lay off is not on the table for now.
At Aviance cargo, the Cargo Manager, Richard Baah also explained that although imports had seen a decline since 2017, the flight cancellations had taken a chunk of their business away.
“We are almost down with about 40 flights a week since the pandemic and 40 flights a week is a huge volume.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda expressed satisfaction with the implementation of protocols to check the spread of the coronavirus by the cargo operators.
Mr Kofi Adda said, “Everything about personnel protective equipment, education, washing of hands including cargo coming in is being well handled. It’s comforting to know that nothing has been detected so far and the port health authorities are working closely with the cargo handlers and stakeholders to ensure that everything is under control.”
He added that the various authorities such as the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, the Ghana Airport Company Limited and the Port Health Authorities will continue to engage with the cargo handlers to ensure safety at all times.
Story by Carlos Afanou