Air freight volumes into Durban surged 13.7% in the three months to December, and the airport expects full-year growth to be around the same level.

Although total volumes were not reported, terminal operator Dube Cargo said the South African city had seen volumes exceed 1,700 tonnes in both October and November for the first time, beating previous monthly records.

Terminal executive Mlibo Bantwini said improved facilities for handling outsized cargo had been partly responsible for the gateway’s “best ever” volume increase.

“Investment significantly contributed to our ability to handle bulky shipments, such as machinery, vehicles and even 20ft shipping containers,” said Mr Bantwini.

“The infrastructure and systems we have in place enabled our supply chain specialists to respond quickly to forwarders’ needs by providing reliable, competitive solutions for charters into Durban.”

He noted particularly the recent arrival of 30 tonnes of heavy-duty marine hoses on an AirBridgeCargo 747-400ERF freighter.

The city’s King Shaka International Airport also saw more chartered aircraft over the past 12 months, while the introduction of wide-bodied passenger flights also bolstered cargo volumes.

A spokesperson for the terminal operator said: “Dube Cargo has demonstrated a positive trend over the last seven years since the airport opened in 2010.

“With cargo volumes having [already] grown by 138% [over the seven-year period since it opened], volumes are still forecast to grow by up to 12% by the close of the 2017/18 financial year.”

Air Mauritius increased its frequency to three flights a week on its Durban-Port Louis route in October, while the Christmas peak season saw Emirates add frequency on its Durban-Dubai route.

And the airport is anticipating further growth following Qatar Airways’ announcement that it intends to increase capacity on its Durban-Doha route with the introduction of larger B777-300ERs, adding some 15-23 tonnes per flight.

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