x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Airports mulls cargo privatization plan

Cargo facilities at Abu Dhabi's airport could be privatized under a plan being considered by executives. - with video.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is weighing a plan to privatize its cargo facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The focus comes as ADAC seeks to align itself with the the Government's 2030 development goals, including plans to set up free zones around ADAC's various airports as well as award 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 what we 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 a similar levels due to aircraft deliveries to Etihad Airways.

The airports company is considering spinning off the facilities to the private sector with a multi-year concession. However, it could decide to set an agreement for Etihad Airways to invest in new facilities, or do 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 Airways is building up its cargo network with the delivery of several dedicated Airbus A330-200 freighters last year capable of carrying about 65 tonnes each. The planes will help transport cargo from Asia to Etihad's hub in Abu Dhabi, where the goods will be redistributed through Etihad's network of 57 passenger planes operating out of the Middle East, Europe and Americas.

ADAC also said it had been approved by the Government to offer free zones with 100 per cent foreign ownership in and around Abu Dhabi, Al Al and Al Bateen Executive airports, making it only the third entity in the UAE capital to offer such foreign ownership privileges.