Swissport is continuing to invest in upgrading its air cargo facilities globally with the latest being the the expansion and upgrade of a cargo center at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO).
The airport ground services and air cargo handling services provider said the facility now boasts a new 750sqm interconnected cold storeroom with direct access from the perishable's hub to the airside.
Swissport said the new cold storeroom can hold up to 110 aircraft pallets, which is equivalent to a load that fits on just over three B747 freighters — and equipped with a flatbed with a ball-mat roller for easy maneuvering of shipments in the warehouse.
It noted that four of the six cold storerooms are dedicated to perishable cargo (+2 to +8°C), while the remaining two are assigned to pharmaceuticals (CRT +15 to +20°C and COL +2 to +8°C).
Increased perishable cargo from Kenya
Swissport said last year in Kenya, it handled 55,000 tons of cargo, of which about 44,000 tons were perishable cargo exported from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO).
Moreover, 75% of handled perishables were Fresh Cut Flowers exported to Europe via Swissport’s renowned Fresh Cut Flowers Corridor, a door-to-door supply chain and initiative that integrated all stakeholders, from farmers in Kenyan Highlands (mainly areas of Naivasha, Nakuru, Nanyuki, and Timau), to forwarders and airlines — all with the common goal of maximizing the efficiency of handling such delicate cargo and thus extending the shelf life for the benefit of the end-customer.
"The Swissport team is very experienced in handling fresh cut flowers — a product that requires a significantly different type of freight built up due to the nature of such produce and the required packaging," said Racheal Ndegwa, managing director Swissport Kenya.
"Our world-class expertise enables us to maximize the weight, which in turn allows us to realize savings for our clients and ensure the product's quality at the same time," he added.
Swissport's facilities in Nairobi are IATA CEIV Fresh and IATA CEIV Pharma certified.
The company's service also extends to the handling of dangerous goods, for which it has specific and secure locations in the general warehouse and cold storerooms.
It said that ahe aim of the company is to offer its customers a full range of services tailored to meet the most ambitious needs of the clients.
Minimising temperature changes
Swissport said it also installed a vacuum cooler for handling temperature-sensitive cargo.
With the ability to cool down two main deck pallets from a starting temperature of 24ºC to 2ºC in 22 minutes, the vacuum cooler will further shorten handling times and mitigate the risk of temperature impact on sensitive cargo.
"Since the launch of our Fresh Cut Flowers Corridor, Swissport in Kenya has been working on perfecting the cool chain solution to deliver a top-quality service which protects the integrity of delicate flowers and maximizes the returns for our clients," said Dirk Goovaerts, CEO Swissport CEMEA, and Global Cargo Chair.
"Swissport has innovation built into its DNA. The recent upgrades to our air cargo facilities and the refined handling process are significant steps but we will continue to further enhance our solutions. We are a cargo handling leader and want to work with a local cargo community to shape the future of air cargo handling in Kenya," he added.
Swissport has been serving airlines in Kenya since 1997. At NBO in Nairobi, the company provides passenger services, ramp handling, air cargo handling, executive aviation services and operates an airport lounge.
In 2022, Swissport also started operations at Moi International Airport (MBA) in Mombasa where it offers passenger services, ramp handling, and executive aviation services. Swissport in Kenya handles on average 94 passenger flights and 1,200 tons of cargo per week.