Incheon International Airport is set to start operations at its newest cool cargo center this year as it aims to improve the airport’s hub competitiveness, particularly in the perishables sector.
The airport said ‘necessary procedures are under way’ for the completion of the construction project, which is scheduled to enter service this September.
The new center, to be operated by Korean Air, is expected to reduce transshipment times and costs, and can be used alternately as a vaccine warehouse.
The air hub put emphasis on location and built the facility near its second passenger terminal to improve the efficiency in trans-shipping perishables loaded on the belly of passenger aircraft.
“According to current belly cargo handling procedure, belly cargo passenger aircraft is towed to the cargo terminal for unloading after landing and the shipment is carried to a warehouse then transported to the passenger apron for re-loading,” the airport explained.
With the center placed at the passenger aircraft apron, Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) said arriving planes with cargo on the bellyhold do not need to be towed away to the cargo terminal, minimising the adverse effect on any perishable product.
The cool center, equipped with refrigeration facilities, can also serve as a vaccine warehouse, IIAC noted, adding that it is the most appropriate storage place in case any government policy change on pharma transport
An official from the company said the plan is to attract cargo owners who wish to minimise the potential damage on their products with the center serving as a ‘differentiator’ from other airports.
IIAC anticipates the cool cargo center to add 55,000 tonnes annually once the planned merger between Korean Air and Asiana is finalised. It also predicts more more cargo volume once travel restrictions are lifted with more people getting vaccine jabs.
The airport ranked as the world’s third largest hub in cargo tonnage with about 40 percent of the total volume involving transshipment cargo. In May, it signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries to establish an conversion facility for B777 converted freighters.