Revealed: Abu Dhabi's plan to become global air cargo hub

Revealed: Abu Dhabi's plan to become global air cargo hub
Published: 1 December 2019 - 5:04 a.m.
By: Logistics Middle East Staff

Abu Dhabi Airports and Etihad Cargo on Tuesday announced a major project to enhance Abu Dhabi International Airport into a global air cargo centre of excellence.

The two entities said they 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 perimeters.

The program will culminate with the inauguration of Etihad Cargo’s future home, a 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, a statement said.


The first phase - the upgrading of the Southside Etihad cargo facilities - will start immediately and is due for completion in phases between by the end of the third quarter of 2020.

The scope includes the enhancement of RFS loading docks with levelers, insulation and floor works for faster and more efficient loading with stricter temperature controls, 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, the statement added.

This phase will also enhance Etihad’s pharmaceutical logistics capability through a dedicated Southside Pharma Terminal, adding 3,500 sq m’s 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 said they have also agreed to designate a plot of land at the East Midfield site, with the team soon inviting expressions of interest to bid for the design and construction of Etihad Cargo’s plan to create 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, the statement said.


Bryan Thompson, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “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.”

Tony Douglas, group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, 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.”

Abu Dhabi Airports also announced it is setting the groundworks 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.

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