October 07, 2019: Setting its goal to boost air cargo volumes, OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg has welcomed FedEx to operate its dedicated cargo flight B777 weekly. The service between Johannesburg and Dubai connects Africa to the global FedEx network and increased capacity into the US and Europe. The plane lands in Johannesburg once a week, flying from Memphis via Dubai.

Though FedEx operates about 680 of its own planes throughout the world, this is the first time any of its all-cargo aircraft have included a regularly scheduled flight landing in Africa.

Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, GM, OR Tambo International Airport, posted on her LinkedIn, “We are honored and humbled that FedEx has chosen South Africa and in particular our airport as its first station in Africa for the touchdown of the B777 cargo freighter. FedEx is the 16th dedicated cargo freighter to operate direct services into our airport. The routing of this service which presents massive opportunities for strengthened links between Southern Africa and the United States of America as the largest economy in the world is from Memphis- Dubai-Johannesburg. Cargo infrastructure at our airport is one of the key catalysts to the Gauteng City Region’s Aerotropolis.”

She indicated that the airport had handled some 380,000 tonnes of cargo in the 2018-19 financial year, as reported by Engineering News.

Earlier this year OR Tambo has upgraded to Level 2 (reduction) status under the terms of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme administered by Airports Council International (ACI). This is the only institutionally endorsed, global carbon management certification programme for airports.

Pityi-Vokwana said the airport looked forward to developing its cargo operations in the next few years through the development of its new midfield cargo terminal. "The midfield cargo terminal will enhance South Africa's status as an air traffic hub and drive new traffic through the country's lead airport."

According to Business Live, Mike Higley, FedEx's vice-president for Southern Africa, said, "It's a response to requests from customers, and will serve five countries - South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia."

The new cargo precinct will cater to the cargo facilities and support services to enable the handling of 750,000 tonnes of cargo per year. Phase 2 of the cargo infrastructure plan will allow for growth and expansion to accommodate up to 2 million tonnes of cargo a year.

The new facility will provide capacity for general cargo, specialised goods, as well as distribution and support services for the air cargo supply chain.

FedEx, which launched in Memphis in 1973, landed its first B777 aircraft in South Africa, as part of a scheduled plan to carry goods in and out of the country.

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