Abu Dhabi Airports and Etihad Cargo have announced plans for a major airfreight facility boost for the Middle East airline’s hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The partners will implement a “multi-phased cargo infrastructure development” strategy, starting with the imminent upgrade of Etihad’s existing air cargo terminal facilities on the Southside airport perimeter.
The programme will culminate with the inauguration of Etihad Cargo’s new air cargo terminal in the East Midfield section of the airport, an area designated by Abu Dhabi Airports for future integrated cargo, logistics and integrator activities.
The upgrading of the Southside Etihad cargo facilities will commence immediately and is due for completion in phases at the end of the third quarter in 2020.
The scope includes the enhancement of road feeder service (RFS) loading docks with levelers, insulation and floor works for faster and more efficient loading with stricter temperature controls.
There will also be increased storage space and additional build-up and breakdown zones to improve production workflow, and upgraded cool chain facilities for both its fresh and pharma handling and storage operations.
A joint statement said: “This phase will not only increase efficiency and productivity in the existing facilities to support air cargo growth at Abu Dhabi International Airport for the coming five years, but it will also enhance Etihad’s pharmaceutical logistics capability through a dedicated Southside Pharma Terminal, adding 3,500 sq m of space for temperature-controlled handling and storage across both 2-8 degrees Celsius and 15-25 degrees Celsius categories.”
Abu Dhabi Airports and Etihad Cargo have agreed as a next step to designate a plot of land at the East Midfield site.
A joint team will soon be inviting expressions of interest to bid for the design and construction of Etihad Cargo’s next generation facility that will mark “the creation of one the world’s most advanced and automated air cargo terminals”.
The facility will be designed to handle incremental UAE import and export demand, boost Etihad’s growing cargo network flows as well as cater for the “significant rise” in e-commerce and express mail and cargo operations.
Bryan Thompson, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, commented: “Geographically, Abu Dhabi is situated at the heart of the east to west trade routes. Additionally, the transport and logistics fabric of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is well planned and structured to create undeniable potential to grow the cargo traffic exponentially.”
“Today we are putting in place the right foundations and frameworks for our future cargo activity, which in a few years will re-shape this industry for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is the future’s cargo hub for the region and the world.”
Etihad Aviation Group chief executive Tony Douglas said: “Today’s announcement is a major milestone in the development of Etihad Cargo’s logistics strategy that will see our hub continue to grow as one of the world’s most important trade facilitators connecting East and West.
“The immediate investment in the Southside terminal will deliver a step change in the efficiency and capability of our existing facilities while the announcement of the development of a new facility reinforces Etihad’s commitment to develop Abu Dhabi as a world class hub for the logistics of the future.”
In addition, Abu Dhabi Airports is setting the groundwork for the first phase of a bonded, non-bonded and free zone area adjoining the airport, designated as “Al Falah Free Zone”, which it will develop as a prime location for e-commerce fulfilment and logistics warehousing.