Emirates SkyCargo will reopen its second hub in Dubai South for dedicated freighter operations from March 26, about two years after it was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Emirates airline's freight unit intends to structure its operations across its two hubs in the emirate to tap into the “growth of Emirates’ passenger network and operations, as well as the progressive increase in cargo volumes”, it said on Wednesday.
While the Emirates SkyCentral DXB hub will handle cargo arriving or departing on passenger aircraft, Emirates SkyCentral DWC will cater to dedicated freighter aircraft.
In April 2020, Emirates SkyCargo suspended operations at its DWC hub and consolidated its freighter (main deck) and passenger (belly-hold) cargo operations at Dubai International Airport.
The move was aimed at “streamlining and expediting the transport of essential supplies and medical items across the world”, it said.
Emirates SkyCargo has been heavily involved in transporting Covid-19 vaccines globally and also expanded its pharmaceuticals-handling capacity at Dubai International Airport last year.
The extension of the airline's fully automated cool room at its pharmaceuticals centre now provides an additional 2,600 square metres of temperature-controlled environment, between 2ºC and 25ºC, for storing and handling vaccines and other medicines.
Strong air cargo demand was one of the few bright spots for the global aviation industry, which has been battered for two years by the pandemic.
However, supply chain disruptions, capacity constraints and deteriorating economic conditions in the sector have dampened demand this year, said the International Air Transport Association.
Global freight demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, was up 2.7 per cent a year in January but lower than the 9.3 per cent growth recorded in December 2021.
Capacity was 11.4 per cent above January 2021 levels. Despite being in positive territory, it remains constrained, at 8.9 per cent below January 2019 levels, the aviation body said.
Emirates SkyCentral DWC, which began operations in 2015, has a cargo capacity of more than 1 million tonnes a year.
The terminal has cool chain handling infrastructure and a dedicated pharmaceutical handling zone. Aircraft parking stands, located close to the terminal, allow for the rapid transport of cargo.
A fleet of lorries will carry cargo between the two airports in Dubai, Emirates said.
For high priority freight and urgently required commodities, Emirates SkyCargo will be able to offer a connection time of under five hours from when an aircraft lands at Dubai International Airport to when it takes off at DWC, and vice versa, it said.
The operator, which has a fleet of Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 planes, flies to more than 140 destinations across six continents.