Air Djibouti (Djibouti) and Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa), as well as the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA), have signed an agreement to develop the Port of Djibouti into a sea-air freight logistics hub that will be able to process more than 400,000 tonnes of goods from China into Africa.

A technical working group chaired by Air Djibouti and Ethiopian Airlines has been set up to fine-tune the agreement's details.

This follows a signing ceremony at the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ) on January 20, 2021, attended by amongst others, Air Djibouti Chief Executive Officer Abdourahman Ali Abdillahi; Ethiopian Ambassador to Djibouti, Berhanu Tsegaye; Ethiopian Airlines Area Manager in Djibouti, Yoseph Belay; DPFZA Chairman, Aboubaker Omar Hadi; and China Merchants Group representative, He Fei, according to local media reports.

The partnership aimed to combine the DPFZA’s expertise in port operations, with that of both airlines, in creating a sea-air cargo logistics hub that would rival Dubai, taking advantage of Djibouti’s geostrategic location on the continent, according to the DPFZA’s social media posts about the meeting.

Hadi said Djibouti's geographic position would shave hours off sea-air freight transport, compared to routings via Dubai. More than 850,000 tonnes of goods destined for Africa was currently transported from sea to air via Dubai, more than half of which originated from China, the DPFZA said.

Ethiopian Airlines stands to double its existing cargo operation through the partnership, which also will open opportunities for Air Djibouti and the Djibouti Shipping Company, reporters were told.

Air Djibouti operates a single B727-200(F), 5Y-GMA (msn 21930), wet-leased from Kenya's Safe Air (K3, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), while Ethiopian Airlines owns a fleet of eleven main-deck freighters including two B737-800(SF)s and nine B777-200Fs, alongside one DHC-8-Q400 makeshift freighter.