THE UAE’S STAR PERFORMER
Joe Bates talks to Faisal Al Mulla, director of cargo business management at Dubai Airports, operator of Dubai International Airport (DXB), the biggest cargo gateway in the Gulf and the sixth busiest in the world.
How did Dubai International Airport (DXB) fare in 2018 in terms of cargo volumes?
Cargo volumes at DXB dipped by 0.5% to 2.6 million tonnes in 2018, which can be considered a satisfactory performance taking into account the general softness in demand globally during the year, and the fact that cargo operations at DXB have effectively been limited to bellyhold shipments on passenger airlines and cargo flights operated by our three main integrators and Emirates SkyCargo since all pure cargo operators moved to Dubai World Central (DWC) five years ago.
DWC now handles close to a million tonnes of freight a year and some 110 freighter flights on a weekly basis for Emirates SkyCargo and other international operators However, DXB remains Dubai’s largest cargo airport and has maintained its status as one of the world’s top cargo hubs thanks to its top-notch logistics infrastructure and services, great connectivity by air, sea and land, and Dubai’s established position as one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for tourism, trade and business.
Who operates the different cargo facilities?
Emirates manages the main cargo facilities, more specifically the Cargo Mega Terminal (Dubai Cargo Village) at DXB and the SkyCentral facility at DWC. Dnata as Dubai Airports’ official ground handling agent, manages the facilities that serve other airlines and are strategically located around the airport at both DXB and DWC. In addition to Emirates SkyCargo and dnata, the integrators have their own terminals that function independently and utilise the airport assets to keep running their businesses smoothly.
What are the top five cargoes handled at DXB?
By weight, the top five commodities handled at DXB today are Fruits and Vegetables; Meat (Frozen and fresh); Flowers; Mobile phones; and Seafood.
DXB is the only hub in the region to have the General Distribution Practices (GDP) certification and we are also certified by IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV). Both certifications, combined with our state-of-the-art infrastructure, put us in a unique position in terms of our capabilities and have led to an increase in pharma shipments at DXB.
How important is Emirates to DXB’s cargo success?
Emirates is Dubai’s flag carrier and the single largest airline operator at DXB, connecting the city to 100 plus destinations around the world. Considering that bellyhold freight accounts for up to 60% of DXB’s cargo volumes, it is safe to say that Emirates’ operations are central to the success of the cargo and logistics business in Dubai.
What are the projections for cargo traffic at DXB in 2019 and beyond?
While the year started on a positive note with DXB’s cargo growing 4.1% to 641,250 tonnes in the first quarter 2019, we expect the growth to be sluggish this year due to a slowdown in the global economy. We are in the process of finalising our projections for the year and will share them once they are ready.
Can you tell US more about your plans to develop the airport’s cargo facilities?
We anticipate growth in the special commodities segment, which includes pharmaceuticals and e-commerce – both of which are time-sensitive and require quick turnarounds so, for now anyway, we don’t require any physical expansion of our existing cargo facilities. We will, however, continue to look at the latest available technological solutions and process improvements at DXB to maximise efficiency and deliver smooth connections and speedy turnarounds for all our customers.