Dubai Logistics City, the cargo complex for the new Dubai World Central airport, is gearing up to make its pitch to freighter operators, and to this end is currently “refi ning its value proposition” and starting to make contacts, accordingto its CEO Michael Proffitt.
The timing of any pitches is a critical factor, as DLC does not want to get carriers excited too far ahead of the actual airport opening, which is expected to be sometime in the middle of 2008. That is when the airport’s fi rst runway will be ready for use. Construction is expected to fi nish by early 2008, but some monthswill then be required for testing.
The airport’s fi rst handling terminal, dubbed FreightGate7 and to be operated by Dnata, also has to be completed before cargo fl ights can start. This will initially have a capacity of 200,000 tonnes on a 38,000 square metre site. Later, when the terminal is fully automated, it will be capable of handling600,000 tonnes.
Initial customers for the airport are likely to be independent cargo operators. One carrier that has already confi rmed that it plans to base itself at the new airport as soon as it opens is Liwa Air, a Dubai-based all-cargo airline headed by former Etihad boss, Robert Stroedel. Liwa is initially operating with three wetleased TU-204Cs on regional routes, but also plans to get into B747operations.
Other freighter operators serving Afghanistan and Iraq who currently base themselves in the Dnata cargo terminals on the north side of Dubai airport may also be attracted to the DLC, but Jean- Pierre de Pauw, senior general manager cargo for Dnata points out that many of these carriers rely on the mainstream airlines serving Dubai for cargo feeds, so a move to Dubai World Central mightnot be a forgone conclusion.
The really big prize for Dubai World Central would be to get Emirates to move its freighter operations, of course. However, Ram Menen, senior vice president cargo for Emirates, says it will not even be considered before a new airside to airside road linking the two airportsis built in 2009.
However, the passenger division in the carrier did give Dubai World Central a boost in March when it indicated that it would transfer operations to the new airport as soon as it has enough runwayand terminal capacity.
And in the long run, the DLC cannot fail to become the main cargo hub for the Middle East, it seems. Major forwarders have already voted with their feet, with DHL, Panalpina, Kuehne & Nagel and Aramex all committed tomajor facilities in the zone.
In all, the DLC has reservations from forwarders and logistics companies for three million square metres of land, and Proffi tt admits a major task at present is turning those reservations into fi rmcontracts.
He even feels that the DLC can afford to become a bit picky about the type of tenants it accepts. “We turned away a few applicants because they did not fi t the profi le for the zone,” he reveals. “We want companies that will build us up as an international cargo hub, and have at least some element of air as part of a multimodal mix, not just ones focusingon national trading.”
One last attraction for freighter operators could be the chance to self-handle, or even build their own handling terminal, something that is possible almost nowhere else in the region.“DLC will not be a monopoly forDnata,” says Proffi tt emphatically. “It willbe an open platform. We will start withone handling licence, but others will begranted.” – Peter Conway