Cargo the target as Adac plans expansion

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By Ivan Gale  www.thenational.ae

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) is considering a plan to spin off cargo facilities in the capital,stimulating investment.

Abu Dhabi Airports CargoThe plan includes allowing private companies to invest in and run the facilities, which are all housed at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

This comes as Adac seeks to align itself with the Government’s 2030 development goals, including plans to set up free zones around Adac’s various airports as well as awarding a construction contract on the long-delayed midfield terminal building.

The current cargo centre is described as “somewhat aged and with limited expansion abilities”, said James Bennett, the chief executive of Adac.

“It is very difficult to attract new businesses when the business you are doing today is limited with space,” he said. “So we are trying to explore options to get a new cargo facility up and running in the most efficient way possible.”

Last year, air cargo volumes grew by 16 per cent at the airport, to 438,000 tonnes, and the growth is expected to continue along similar levels because of aircraft deliveries to Etihad Airways.

Adac is considering spinning off the facilities to the private sector with a multi-year concession. However, it could decide to set up an agreement for Etihad to invest in new facilities, or take on the investment itself through its subsidiary, Abu Dhabi Cargo Company, Mr Bennett said.

“We have received good interest from private companies and now we are back out to them again asking them for some clarifications and updates,” he said.

Etihad built up its cargo network with the delivery last year of several dedicated Airbus A330-200 freighters capable of carrying about 65 tonnes each. The aircraft will help to transport cargo from Asia to Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi, where the goods will be redistributed through the airline’s network of 57 passenger planes operating out of the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

Because of Etihad’s fleet growth the airline’s cargo volumes rose by 21.6 per cent last year, although it did not provide actual figures. Cargo revenues also grew 59 per cent.

Last week, Adac said it had invited contractors to bid on its multibillion-dollar midfield terminal building, which will become the future home of Etihad and the more than 50 other airlines flying into Abu Dhabi airport, with an expected opening of 2016.

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