Dnata invests $223m in automated cargo centre in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

Move comes amid continued boom in the global air freight market

Dnata will operate one of world’s largest and most advanced cargo facilities at Schiphol Airport. Reem Mohammed / The National
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Dnata, the airlines services arm of Emirates airlines, will invest €200 million ($223m) in a fully automated cargo centre at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport amid a continued boom in the global air freight market.

Dnata Cargo City Amsterdam, at Schiphol South-East, will have the capacity to handle more than 850,000 tonnes of cargo annually, Dubai-based dnata said in a statement on Monday.

The 61,000-square-metre centre, which is scheduled to start operations in 2024, will increase the company’s warehouse space by 19,000 sq m.

“Our new cargo facility will enable us to meet the rapidly growing demand for our efficient and reliable services,” David Barker, dnata’s divisional senior vice president for airport operations, said.

Dnata Cargo City Amsterdam will “deliver significant commercial benefits for our partners, their customers and the local economy”, he said.

Global demand for air cargo increased by 6.9 per cent in 2021, compared with pre-Covid levels in 2019, and 18.7 per cent compared with 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association. This was the second-biggest improvement in year-on-year demand since the industry lobby body started to monitor cargo performance in 1990, behind the 20.6 per cent gain in 2010.

The air cargo market is booming. It has been driven by consumers ordering items online that must be shipped quickly, a trend that accelerated since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dnata currently provides passenger, ground handling and cargo services to 29 airlines at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Its Dutch team consists of 1,000 aviation workers, who assist more than 1.5 million passengers, oversee operations of about 8,000 flights and handle 580,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

“The cargo operation is of critical importance to our airport’s network, which became even more evident during the Covid pandemic,” Jan Willem Weissink, managing director of Schiphol Commercial, said. “Together with dnata and other partners, Schiphol is working on a highly successful, efficient and sustainable cargo operation.”

Dnata currently provides ground handling, cargo, catering and retail services at more than 120 airports in 14 countries.

Iata expects air cargo volumes to remain strong in 2022, after a strong performance in 2021.

“Air cargo had a stellar year in 2021. For many airlines, it provided a vital source of revenue as passenger demand remained in the doldrums due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Growth opportunities, however, were lost due to the pressures of labour shortages and constraints across the logistics system. Overall, economic conditions do point towards a strong 2022,” Willie Walsh, Iata’s director general, said last week.

Updated: May 17, 2023, 3:39 PM