The rush to transport medical supplies from China has saturated all cargo airfreight, and is seen as the only opportunity for commercial airlines to make some income in this terrible crisis that is having unprecedented impact on the airline and travel industry. That is why many airlines have changed their passenger airplanes to cargo. Most airlines are using cabin space to stock goods, some of them using covered seats following regulations; other airlines have removed the seats to gain more volume. Boeing has determined that their approval is not necessary to modify the aircrafts, they are good to go with local approval issued by the local authorities. Many airlines have already started the transformation of a part of their fleet: Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways have increased the number of transformed passenger carriers.

The main problem remains the cost of the transport. Demand for airfreight has increased so much that prices of €10–12 per kg have been reported, so airlines prefer to connect China with Europe and the USA, rather than transporting horticultural products from Africa to Europe where cargo usually costs around €1.20 per kg. The high demand for medical equipment is not going to be over soon, as many warehouses full of medical supplies are waiting to be shipped from Chinese cities. 

In Cameroon, the capacity for pineapples have been considerably reduced from 67 tonnes per day 6 or 7 days a week to 8 tonnes 3 to 5 times a week. Also, a COVID tax has been introduced at €0.19 per kg of perishables. Bolloré Logistics proposed an alternative to bring cargo from Cameroon to Brussels at €1.60 per kg with Royal Air Maroc, and they currently have enough space to cover demand for 40 tonnes a week, however this price might not be suitable to carry pineapples as the price of this fruit has not increased accordingly in the EU market. 

From Ghana, the situation is critical. All cargo is centralised, mainly by Air Ghana, and their current offer is not enough to export all production, having at least a deficit of 160 tonnes per week. In addition, booking is not respected, which has increased production losses of products ready to be exported.

In Côte d’Ivoire, freight has increased from €1.45/kg to €1.85/kg. For the moment our partners have reported a deficit of 10 tonnes a week. 

In Madagascar, Air France has so far provided one cargo flight per week passing through Reunion Island. But the waiting time is too long, making it impossible to store products in Madagascar before the flight, so shipping fresh vegetables has not been possible yet. The offer of production for export has reduced, with at this point no alternative to export.

The offer of airfreight from Nairobi is currently increasing: the flower trade has significantly reduced exports due to a drop in demand (around 70%) and currently adapted passenger aircrafts from Kenya Airways, Ethiopian and KLM are attending Kenya exports. According to Edward Mureu, proprietor of Naivasha-based Rubi ranch, exports of fresh produce had dropped sharply due to the current pandemic, where getting cargo flights has been a major challenge (The Star, 20 April). “The export of fresh produce has dropped by around 70 per cent and this is due to a drop in demand in Europe due to the lockdown and high flight charges,” he said. KQ is, however, said to be expensive compared to competitors, a move that could affect exports. “Kenya Airways is charging three dollars per kilo unlike the competitors like Ethiopian and Qatar airways who are charging two dollars,” he said.
In a statement released by the Dutch embassy in Nairobi on 20 April (, the Netherlands expressed its desire to maintain strong trade links with Kenya. Consequently, Kenya and the Netherlands have agreed to two flights a week to foster economic ties amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Starting Tuesday, April 21, and Sunday, April 26, Air France KLM Martinair, Cargo will operate two weekly cargo flights bringing 45-50 tons of cargo from Nairobi to Amsterdam,” The statement read in part. “For this purpose, KLM Boeing 777-300 passenger aircraft will be used with ample belly capacity. This comes in addition to the existing full freighter flights Air France KLM Martinair is regularly operating.”
Kenya Airways has transformed at least four aircraft into cargo.

Ethiopian has expanded its cargo fleet of 12 full cargo aircraft with an additional 10 to 15 passenger aircraft adapted for cargo. Although it seems that there is a big problem of stuck cargo on their hub of Addis Ababa which may complicate logistics, if using this operator be aware that there may be delays. 

Rwandair has been operating cargo flights only to Brussels and London at least once a week using its A330 jets from Kigali.

Finally, many cargo flights are planned only 2 or 3 days before, which complicates logistics for perishables as it becomes very difficult to predict some flights. 

Information for individual airlines and services

For full schedules for Air France KLM Martinair Cargo; Lufthansa, Quatar Airways; Emirates; and DHL, download the file here.

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo
Air France KLM Martinair Cargo is significantly reducing its offer from week 18 to week 19, taking out of their planning some cities like: Luanda, Niamey and Pointe Noire, however some destinations are included like Libreville, and KLM is introducing a passenger flight twice a week to Nairobi in addition to their full cargo flights with Martinair and Air France.

Quatar Airways
Quatar Airways offer has not change, it is still offering freight service via Qatar from the following cities in Africa: Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Djibouti (Djibouti) with a wide range of cities in Europe, including Brussels, Liege, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Prague and London. Although prices have increased in some cases up to 300%.

Emirates offer has not changed from last week from Nairobi (Kenya), Entebbe (Uganda) and Khartoum (Sudan). Flights are via Dubai with connections with major airports in Europe including Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Madrid, Zurich, Milan, Vienna and Maastricht. A 15% increase in freight rates has been reported.

Kenya Airways
Changed 4 aircrafts into cargo, connecting Nairobi to Europe, however prices have been reported at 3 euros per kg.

Regarding Cameroon, DHL maintains an air freight offer, but changed the aircraft and put a small plane on Brussels – 8T of capacity per plane (instead of 13T), and 5 days out of 7 (instead of 6/7).
Temporary suspension of DHL services remains to the following destinations: Cuba, India, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, Mayotte, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, St Eustatius and Timor Leste. The remaining destinations are still served, but with extended delivery times that can be up to 7 additional business days for Sudan, Zambia or Zimbawe. Also from 1 April there will be an emergency situation surcharge (fixed charge per shipment) as follows:

Chargeable weight (kg) Charge
Up to 2.5 No charge
2.51–30 €2.50
30.1–70 €15
70.1–300 €50
>300.1 €200

Ethiopian Cargo
Ethiopian Cargo is currently making changes in its passenger airplanes in order to transform some of them to cargo and increase its service capacity. However, cargo prices have risen considerably. A problem of surcharge with more than 5000 tonnes in their hub at Addis Ababa have been reported which may cause big delays. If you are using this carrier to transport perishables, make sure they can assure transport to destination.

Lufthansa has updated its service from Africa and will start servicing Senegal from 18 April, the schedule has been updated, please check the Excel file for flight planning. However, the schedule will depend on the measures Belgium takes on containment, that will determine the opening of Brussels Airlines on 15 May. Note that some Brussels Airlines flights have been registered in the past 24 hours from Ghana and Cameroon, so it is advisable to maintain contact with the airline to see if they are offering cargo services.

FedEx and TNT have temporarily suspended all services to and from all African countries. Detailed information is available here.

Flight operations by country

(Source: based on Bolloré Logistics report, 23 April)

Algeria Since 19/03/2020, all passengers’ flights to and from Europe are suspended. Freighter flights are operating with minimum services.

Angola Air Freight: Since 20/03/2020, all domestics and international flights have been suspended. Charters are being organized in order to allow evacuation of residents. Restriction policies implemented in both Congo and Angola impact corridor PNR/CAB’s capacity to operate. The usual regular freighter LGG/ LAD is still operating, and a contingency pan has been set through 2 freighters/week ex LSB to LAD (provisional schedule). Besides, to face the corridor situation, alternative solutions are currently being discussed. Shipping to LAD also remains an additional option which involves necessary short sea LAD/CAB.

Benin All flights have been suspended since March 20th, and all airlines stopped their services except for Air France AF (which operates 1 passengers flight + 1 cargo freighter / week) and Ethiopian ET (which operates 1 passengers flight/ week).

Botswana No inbound or outbound cargo and no bookings accepted by the airlines. Trucking to Johannesburg JNB. Charter flights ex JNB possible for essential goods.

Burkina Faso Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operating.

Burundi All passenger flights have been suspended – measure extended until further notice. Cargo flights, sanitary evacuation, humanitarian aid and diplomatic flights are not concerned by this government measure and are still operating for some origin / destinations.

Cameroon All international passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on the capacity. A contingency plan has been set up through the Cargo Magma option available on day 4 via Paris CDG hub. There is the possibility to use Royal Air Maroc at 1.60 per kg. DHL changed the aircraft and put a small plane on Brussels - 8T of capacity per plane (instead of 13T), and 5 days out of 7 (instead of 6/7).

Central African Republic All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on the capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL. A contingency plan has been implemented through the Block Space Agreement BSA cargo option with Allied on Day 3. 

Chad Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended until 25 April, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL.

Congo Air freight: From 20 March, all passenger flights from exposed countries have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by Allied, Magma and DHL. A contingency plan has been set up through the BSA cargo option on Allied available on day 1 via CDG hub.

Côte d’Ivoire Air freight: all passenger flights have been suspended since 22 March. Cargo is still going on, but no plane except DHL.

Djibouti Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operational.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - East Air freight: All flights have been suspended effective 20 March. Cargo flights are still operational.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - West Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - South Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operating.

Equatorial Guinea Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL Cargo (two flights/week) and and Ethiopian ET (1flight/ week).

Ethiopia Ethiopian airlines has suspended passengers’ flights for 80 destinations. ET cargo flights still operating but cargo capacity reduced due to flight cancellations. No cargo flights on Lufthansa and Emirates.

Gabon Air freight: All passenger national and international flights have been suspended except for flights organized occasionally by the French Embassy, putting more constraint on capacity. Cargo flights are still operated by DHL Cargo and Express via Accra, Allied, Stabo and Ethiopian Airlines. Cargo option Libreville LBV via DHL Day 7, via CDG (Paris) Hub, Port-Gentil (POG) with European Air Transport (QY) block space agreement (BSA) Day 2. Any shipment to Libreville must be subject to mandatory agreement from Bolloré Transport & Logistics minimum 3 days prior loading. Airport staff is operating with minimum services and focusing on essential activities. Specific authorizations and passes are required for Libreville importers. Air France is going to increase a passenger aircraft for cargo to Libreville.

Gambia Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended, only cargo flights are still operating.

Ghana All passenger flights have been suspended since March 22nd until further notice. The Lockdown was lifted on April 20th.Cargo flights are still operated (DHL, TK and Allied) but delays are to be expected. The restriction also does not apply to emergency flights, technical landings for refuel only, medical evacuation flights. The exempted flights are to seek pre-authorization from the Ghanaian entities. Capacity from Ghana is currently a big issue since carriers have not enough space to book all cargo. 

Guinea Conakry Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated.

Kenya Air freight: Only cargo flights will be allowed after 25th March 2020 but crew must abide by strict controls in place. KLM is adding to flights of passenger aircrafts used as carriers in addition to Martinair, other alternatives are Kenya Airways, Ethiopian and Qatar. 

Liberia Air freight: Except for cargo (DHL cargo flight comes in 5 days weekly), chartered and special flights, all commercial flights are suspended as of 23 March. All flights traveling to Liberia are suspended.

Madagascar Air freight: For air travel, as announced last week, all PAX (passenger) flights are suspended and only Air France and Turkish Airlines serve Madagascar via their weekly cargo flight. Turkish Airlines is operating on Sundays and Airfrance on Thurdays.

Malawi All international flights are suspended except: (1) flights carrying health personnel, essential health equipment and emergency relief items; (2) flights carrying returning Malawi citizens and residents or general cargo, both of which will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Mali Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated.

Mauritania Air freight: Closed.

Mozambique Air freight: Embargo on all passenger flights. Cargo flights are operational, but airlines are closing their offices and limiting flights – flights are only once a week or less, cargo is subject to stay on standby at airport.

Namibia Air freight: Limited flights. Airports are closed with no Passengers / Cargo. We are awaiting confirmation from the Ministry regarding further restrictions.

Niger Air freight: All passenger flights have been suspended. Cargo flights are still operated.

Nigeria Air freight: All airports closed to passenger international flights; cargo flights still operating. Clearing activities only for essential cargo at the airport to all clearing agents. NAHCO and SAHCO have skeletal staff on ground receiving cargo from freighters to central warehouse and releasing only essential cargo. Customs and authorities on site at a skeletal level to attend to demand on essential cargo release. Note: only cargo where the consignee can provide an exemption letter from Federal Government proving essential cargo status will be handled.

Rwanda Air freight: Embargo on all passenger flights. Minimal operations in place during lockdown. One cargo flight by Rwandair to Brussels and London.

Senegal Air freight: Suspension of all flights to/from Senegal with the exception of domestic and cargo flights, sanitary evacuations and special flights, from 20 March. Turkish and Air France cargo flights restart twice a week (Turkish Wednesday and weekend; Air France Tuesday and Sunday). Lufthansa is starting to operate Senegal; please check available schedules.

Sierra Leone Air freight: 19 March, suspension of all PAX flights. 24 March, business continuity plan in place for logistics in case of external aid oncoming.

Somalia Air freight: Federal Government of Somalia has implemented flight restrictions. International flights suspended for 15 days. AMISOM cargo base closed to all drop offs except by special application.

South Africa Air freight: Freighters to Johannesburg JNB operating (EY, QR, TK, MP, SV, KL) SAA freighter to Germany. Operations slightly delayed; Fedex - JNB to MEM and over 100 destinations available. Trucking to DBN / CPT / Namibia / Botswana where no flights operating. Charter flights ex JNB possible for essential goods.

Sudan – Airport customs closed until further notice. Customs operations for Medical, food, pharmaceuticals and any emergency spare parts from 07h00 to 13h00hrs

Sudan – South Air freight: International flights banned effective 23 March with exemption for food cargo flights, humanitarian aid operations including medical and relief flights, and technical lading.

Tanzania Air freight: Operational – Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority has announced suspending all scheduled and unscheduled passenger flights; and permitting cargo flights but crew will be quarantined at designated place by the Government for the duration of their stay.

  • Swiss International Air Lines has cancelled all flights from 19 March to 14 April.
  • Emirates will suspend all flights worldwide for 2 weeks from 25 March as UAE halts all air travel
  • KLM has cancelled all flights for the whole of week 13. New schedule to be issued soon.
  • Kenya Airways will suspend all flights from Dar from 25 March to 30 April. They will only operate with cargo flights/freighters subject to volume of cargo.
  • Qatar airways will also suspend flights from Dar from 25 March until further notice.
  • Bolloré Tanzania is arranging charter/part charter freighters from Europe, China and India to deliver essential supplies to the region.

Togo Air freight: Suspension of all flights except Ethiopian Airlines (import and export) and DHL. 

Uganda Air freight: Only cargo flights operational but limited volumes due to reduced capacity.

Zambia Air freight: Only Ethiopian Airlines operating on PAX and cargo, Stabo air on cargo. Minimal service at airport.

Zimbabwe Air freight: Cargo flights only. Airport operating with minimum staff. Harare office closed, Operations Manager & Sales attending emails from home. Air freight available on call.


There are no reported changes in the situation of the European ports. They remain fully operational; this is the case for Antwerp, Rotterdam, Le Havre and Hamburg.

The logistics company Maersk has published the following developments for week 16:


Transport of goods inside Europe is not directly affected. As noted previously, border controls are effective in many countries and long queues are reported, especially between central European countries. Waiting time can be up to 2–3 hours to cross a border. This can be a big problem when transporting perishables that have to cross more than two countries. There are still delays in crossing from Germany to Switzerland, Hungary to Romania, Romania to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Croatia, and Serbia to Bulgaria.

Sixfold provides an excellent tool to check live information on queues at EU borders.

Other resources
  • BOLLORÉ LOGISTICS is providing a detailed country-by-country update of movement restrictions for air, sea, road and rail freight updated 22 April. They are also proposing charter flights but almost everything covers only China and Europe. For the moment there are no programmed CHARTER FLIGHTS from Africa.
  • LOGISTICS CLUSTER publishes detailed information by country, and includes most countries of the world, updated 22 April.