At the start of a new decade, Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, is geared up to facilitate global trade and cargo movement in 2020 and beyond through a combination of innovative product development and investment in ‘fit for purpose’ infrastructure.
“The global air cargo industry witnessed what was a very challenging year in 2019. Economic uncertainty, tensions in global trade and unrest in key markets negatively impacted cargo volumes. However, the tough market conditions were an opportunity for us to review our core offering to our customers and ensure that we remained market leaders with our specialised product offering, superior capabilities and infrastructure as well as our agility in responding to customer demand,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.
“The outlook for 2020 is more positive with the air cargo industry set to post a modest recovery thanks to improved economic activity and trade growth. With our commitment to ‘deliver as promised’ backed by a global network covering over 155 destinations centred in Dubai, our modern fleet of all wide-body aircraft and our state of the art Emirates SkyCentral terminals, Emirates SkyCargo is well positioned to support trade and economic growth in line with the Dubai Silk Road Project. With Expo 2020 Dubai also set to kick off in October 2020, we will see a surge in movement of goods to and from Dubai and we are working with our partners to provide specialised air freight services for this once in a lifetime event,” he added.
In 2019, Emirates SkyCargo continued to roll out specialised products catered for specific industry verticals.
Emirates Delivers is a new e-commerce platform that enables consumers, both individuals and small businesses, to purchase products from any US based online retail store and have it delivered in the UAE. Emirates Delivers is part of Emirates SkyCargo’s broader strategy to promote Dubai as an e-commerce fulfilment hub for customers based in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. In 2020, the availability of Emirates Delivers will be expanded to more markets.
Other products from the Emirates SkyCargo portfolio showed a strong performance despite challenging market conditions.
- More than 400,000 tonnes of perishables were flown on Emirates’ flights under Emirates Fresh, Emirates SkyCargo’s specialised product for perishables. In November and December of 2019, the carrier operated nine charter flights from Santiago, Chile uniquely for carrying cherries.
- Close to 11,000 high-priority shipments were moved across six continents under the Emirates AOG product during 2019.
- Year-on-year Increase of 6% in the volume of high value goods that were flown under Emirates Safe VAL, Emirates SkyCargo’s product for transportation of precious goods.
- A 12% increase in demand for Emirates Pets, Emirates SkyCargo’s product for transportation of domestic cats and dogs.
In addition to its scheduled passenger and freighter flights, Emirates SkyCargo offers customisable and flexible charter solutions to its global customers. With a responsive and agile team that works to meet customer requirements and set up operations within a short time frame, the carrier has been able to operate close to 370 charters during 2019. Charter operations have helped transport a wide variety of cargo from relief materials for natural disasters and equipment for music concerts to flowers and other perishables.
Fit-for-purpose infrastructure and capabilities
In 2019, Emirates SkyCargo unveiled a new handling facility dedicated for pharmaceutical cargo at Chicago airport, one of the most important pharma stations for Emirates SkyCargo across the world. The facility features temperature controlled zones for acceptance and delivery, pharma cargo build up and break down, storage and direct ramp access and is also certified under EU GDP guidelines.
In November 2019, Emirates SkyCargo moved its pharma handling operations at Copenhagen airport to a dedicated GDP certified facility.
Both initiatives are part of the carrier’s objective to offer enhanced protection for pharmaceutical cargo, not just at the Dubai hub, but from origin to destination under the pharma corridors programme. During 2019, Emirates SkyCargo worked with ground handlers at key pharma origin and destination cities across the world to expand the number of pharma stations from 12 to 25. With its focus on improved capabilities and process benchmarks through collaboration, the implementation of Emirates SkyCargo’s pharma corridors programme has resulted in an increase in the volume of pharma cargo handled across the carrier’s pharma stations. For example, since the launch of the new facility, Chicago has seen a double digit growth in the volume of pharma cargo transported.
In 2019, Emirates SkyCargo’s SkyCentral terminals in Dubai handled an average four pieces of cargo every second of every hour on a 24/7 basis. Over 700 staff on duty at any time of the day helped process around 360,000 individual packages daily through these terminals enabling Emirates’ fleet of over 270 aircraft move approximately 7,000 tonnes of cargo every day, the equivalent of more than 60 full Boeing 777 freighters, between Dubai and the rest of the world.
A fleet of 49 trucks, including 12 refrigerated trucks, made an average 175 trips daily in 2019 to connect the two cargo terminals. Acting as a seamless conveyor belt between the two cargo terminals, the trucking system helped connect cargo from touchdown in one airport to take-off at another airport and vice versa in under five hours. Overall, more than 307,000 tonnes of cargo were transferred by the trucking system between the two airports in 2019 and more than 1.6 million tonnes of cargo over the five years since the start of trucking operations in 2014.