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  • Writer's pictureTeam CargoTalk

Airport infrastructure propels growth in air cargo sector

With its geographic location and dynamic economies, the Middle East is emerging as an international powerhouse in the air cargo world. The importance of air cargo across the Middle East cannot be overstated, as it serves as a linchpin for economic development, global trade, and connectivity in the region.

-Abigail Mathias

Nestled between Asia, Europe, and Africa, the Middle East, The Middle East occupies a pivotal position on the world map. This geographical advantage has transformed the region into a global trade and logistics hub. The Middle East’s well-positioned airports—Dubai International Airport, Hamad International Airport in Doha, and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah—have become critical nodes in the international supply chain, facilitating the movement of goods across various continents.

Within a short time, different industries such as manufacturing, technology, pharmaceuticals, and e-commerce among others have thrived in the region, relying on efficient air cargo services for the timely transport of goods. Air cargo is the lifeblood of the Middle Eastern businesses looking to connect with international markets. It enables companies to import raw materials and export finished products swiftly, efficiently, and reliably.

With the growth of globalization, Middle Eastern businesses can compete on a larger scale, offering products and services to a global audience. The rise of e-commerce has accelerated the demand for fast and reliable shipping services. Air cargo is a vital component of the e-commerce supply chain, allowing consumers access a vast array of products from around the world. Whether it is the latest electronics, fashion items, or perishable goods, air freight ensures that these items reach customers promptly.

Abu Dhabi airport renamed Zayed International Airport

His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Advisor of Special Affairs at the Presidential Court and Chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports’ Board of Directors

His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Advisor of Special Affairs at the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Airports’ Board of Directors, attended a glittering ceremony to rename Abu Dhabi International Airport as Zayed International Airport, in honour of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Paying tribute to Sheikh Zayed’s remarkable legacy and history of accomplishments in introducing the UAE to the world, the new brand encompasses the richness of Emirati culture and Arabian heritage. Designed to provide an innovative and seamless airport experience, the renamed airport meets the highest standards of quality and traveller expectations.

“We are proud to rename Abu Dhabi’s largest airport in honour of the founding father of the UAE. The unsurpassed achievements of the His Royal Highness late Sheikh Zayed in connection with the UAE and nations around the world have inspired our commitment to ensure that Abu Dhabi strengthens its position as a world-leading hub for travel, trade, and commerce,” His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan said.

“I would like to thank His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed for entrusting us with carrying forward the name of the founding father of the UAE, helping to commemorate his unforgettable legacy that impacts us to this day, and will continue to inspire future generations. Zayed International Airport ushers in a new era for Abu Dhabi’s aviation sector. The airport delivers exceptional connectivity, innovation and sustainability for an elevated guest experience.

Investing in electrifying our ground handling fleet

Guillaume Crozier, Senior VP, UAE Cargo & Global Cargo Strategy, dnata

In recent years, we have invested in advanced infrastructure and technologies to consistently deliver world-class services at Dubai airports. Our most recent milestones include the successful launch of One Cargo, our cutting-edge cargo management system, which automates key business and operational functions with an integrated, cloud-based platform.

We have also integrated drones into our operations, digitizing warehouse inventory processes with outstanding accuracy. Besides innovation, sustainability has also been accorded top priority. We continue to invest in the electrification of our ground handling fleet and take various initiatives in a bid to reduce waste and recycle materials across our air cargo operations.”

Middle East airports are focusing on greener airports

Chaminda Perera, Head, Cargo, Srilankan Airlines

The region has been a trading hub over centuries. Since the 1980s, some countries in the Middle East have had the vision of developing them into competitive connecting points to the East and the West in terms of maritime and aviation.

With development of tourism in the region, aviation, airports and cargo hub expansion was inevitable. The airports have invested heavily in technology and infrastructure to be competitive domestically and globally. The Middle Eastern airports including its carriers are focusing on greener operations.

Supplying SAF to aircraft is one of the key initiatives that will lower the carbon footprint. e-apron is another initiative to feature services and ground handling equipment to facilitate the airports reach the sustainability goals.”

New airports reducing environmental impact

Mohammed Bilal Saleem, Manager, Operations & Documentation, Blue Bell Shipping

Over the past decade, infra of the Middle East airports has witnessed a revolution, marked by expansions and technological advancements to meet the industry’s growing demands. New terminals and advanced cargo handling facilities have been key features of this development.

Dubai and Doha airports are improving their infrastructure and boosting freight capacity, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has implemented reforms and a plan for more investment to enhance competitiveness in the industry.

Of late, new airports are focusing on sustainability by adopting efficient systems, eco-friendly waste management, and sustainable designs to minimize environmental impact and shape a greener future.

Regional expansion possible due to developments in KSA

Glyn Hughes, Director General, TIACA

In the past decade we have seen significant volume growth as some major Middle Eastern airports have become transit hubs connecting Asia with Europe, Africa. But that volume growth has been witnessed in special cargo—live animals, perishables, dangerous goods, and e-commerce.

Each special cargo requires special handling, and this is where airport infra makes the difference. Istanbul, Dubai and Doha have invested in world-class infra enabling. And now with the exciting developments planned for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we can expect to see regional expansion. With the industry mapping out a path to net zero by 2050, every step forward is heading in the right direction.”

Airports must invest heavily to cater to rise in cargo traffic

Turhan Özen, VP, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Turkiye

The Middle Eastern aviation industry in general and the airports in specific, have benefited from the region’s strategic location—at the crossroads of major economies in Asia, Africa and Europe. The region grew enormously in the past two decades.

This is the result of right investments led by strong governmental focus. Starting by acting as large airport hubs for both cargo and passengers, they gradually become inbound destinations over passage of time. With 110 airports, this is among the fastest growing region in the world, accounting for 170 million of the global traffic.

The Middle Eastern airports will need to invest US$151 billion in capacity expansion as the global cargo demand is expected to increase two-fold in 2040.”


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