Abu Dhabi airport moves ahead with perishable center

Officials at Abu Dhabi International Airport have completed the 6,000-square-meter first phase of a new perishable cargo terminal. Features of the completed terminal will include dedicated storage for food, a separate room for palletized goods, a Customs area and a room dedicated to food inspection. The second phase of the project is slated to be complete by the end of the year, officials said.

According to airport spokespeople, the new perishable center will improve Abu Dhabi Cargo Company’s handling abilities and will, therefore, allow customers to ship a greater diversity of perishable goods through the airport.

“The majority of the perishable traffic originates from Asia and the Far East destined for markets in Europe and the Middle East. We hope to use the new facilities to support the growth of this market. This will also allow the UAE’s national carrier, Etihad, to develop the perishable traffic using its ever-growing network,” Najib Chehade, the airport’s acting general manager, landside operations and outstations, said.

The air cargo market in the Middle East has done well considering the regional strife. Protests that arose from the Arab Spring and the ongoing issues in Libya at first halted cargo traffic, but Chehade said flows have returned to normal. He’s even hopeful of some increased activity in the near future.

“Various clients of ADCC from the regional airline community are now investing in new airplanes to increase their frequencies and cargo capacity, despite the current political scene. On the international level, and due to Etihad’s cargo route development strategy for China and the Indian subcontinent, ADCC will continue to witness positive growth in the coming year generated from this region,” he said.

During the first seven months of the year, cargo throughput at Abu Dhabi International Airport rose 9.9 percent, year-over-year, settling at a total tonnage of 246,713. Lufthansa announced a restructuring of its flights to Abu Dhabi in August. Starting this month, the carrier will  fly directly from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt without routing through Muscat, Oman.

With traffic trending upward and carriers offering more routes, Chehade hinted that the perishable center might not be the only development officials are considering.

“Abu Dhabi Airports Company is currently evaluating alternate options on the construction of the new cargo facilities,” he said. “In the interim period, a short-term capacity enhancement program is underway wherein areas on the airside will be developed to provide for additional cargo staging, freighter cargo holding areas, etc.”

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