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Green solutions can lift Kenya Airways' cargo business in Valentine’s Day season

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Kenya Airways plane pictured at Kenya Airways Headquarters, Nairobi on June 13, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

Green logistics, also known as sustainable logistics or eco-logistics, refers to the practice of integrating environmental considerations into logistics operations and supply chain management processes to minimise their impact on the environment and promote sustainability.

It involves the application of innovative strategies, technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions, energy consumption, waste generation, and other negative environmental effects associated with the transportation and logistics industry.

Japan, known for its adoption of green technology, particularly in hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), has seen logistics companies adopting sustainable fuel options for transportation. For instance, in April 2023, Yusen Logistics launched the Yusen Book-and-Claim service which utilises sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to airfreight forwarding, enabling customers to grow sustainably.

In May 2023 Kenya Airways (KQ) became the first African airline to use SAF for a long-haul flight. The SAF-fuelled Nairobi-Amsterdam flight allows KQ to gain a competitive advantage in the continent as the preferred carrier and route-to-market into the European Union (EU). Amsterdam has the world’s biggest flower auction.

The next few days (to Valentine’s Day) will be one of the busiest periods in Kenya’s airways as cargo flights will be ferrying flowers to the European market to fulfil the high demand. KQ’s use of SAF is quite strategic since the global green logistics market is segmented into end use, business type, mode of operation and region.

By business type, it is categorised into the warehouse, distribution, and value-added services. On the basis of mode of operation, it is segregated into storage, roadways distribution, seaways/airways distribution and others.

Wouldn’t this lucrative Valentine’s Day season be the one for KQ to increase its capacity into the EU through The Sustainable Flight Challenge (TSFC), an initiative of SkyTeam? The initiative is a friendly competition between SkyTeam member airlines.

KQ is a member of the SkyTeam and thus should easily therefore charter freighters from its SkyTeam members to compete effectively in the marketplace, whenever a surge in demand arises.

Most of the international carriers that already operate from JKIA have been confirming that they will be deploying extra flights to cope with the increased bookings and demand in capacity into the EU market.

Leading supermarket chains in the EU (e.g. Lidl) have been moving away from airfreight to seafreight to reduce their carbon foot prints. This directly impacts on our exports by air in a massive way.

The use of SAF is hence the best way to bargain with the market as it provides a competitive edge against uses of fossil-fuel-propelled equipment. Any airline that will show commitment to the EU market that they are aligned to meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement will definitely be in business by air.

KQ can and should do this. There exists over 5000 tonnes of exports available every week to be lifted out of JKIA.

The writer is Trade, Logistics & Supply Chain Consultant, Leverage Consulting.