However, Emirates plans to use that capacity only for ad hoc traffic. Menen tells Aviation Week that Emirates plans to continue using its large cargo center at Dubai International Airport, investing $7.8 billion to expand it into a new “mega cargo facility.”
Doha also is building a new airport, at a cost of $15.5 billion, that is being designed to handle A380-sized aircraft and 50 million passengers per year by 2016.
Abu Dhabi is undergoing a $6.8 billion redevelopment project for a third midfield terminal as well as new cargo and maintenance facilities, the Momberger Airport Information report says.
Beyond infrastructure and airline expansion, another impact on growth in the Middle East is the increasing need for supply-chain management, involving logistics and inventory management.
Manufacturers have used “just-in-time” shipments to control their inventory for making finished products, but the delivery of those finished products is also becoming more time-critical.
A major item is telecommunications. “Go back to the [cell] phones we used to carry,” Menen says. “They were bricks. If you take a thousand units of those bricks and compare them to a thousand units of the Apple iPhones of today, you have just a 10th or 15th of the shipment size. So there is a shrinking [of product volume] going on, but the cycle time, or live time, of these electronics is getting shorter and shorter. The value of any electronic shipment drops by 1.0-1.5% per week. So the shelf life is very, very short.”
Because of these shorter usages, Menen says the manufacturing and product shipping process “takes careful choreographing.”
The Middle East freight forwarders are now starting to transform from their traditional role of simply picking up and delivering the freight to being “full-blown supply-chain management companies,” says Issa Baluch, a senior fellow at the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University and founder of the Swift Group in Dubai, a leading logistics provider in the UAE.
The Swift Group also is “working hard toward achieving the goals of e-freight,” the movement to eliminate paperwork involved in the movement of airfreight, thus reducing time, cost and effort in the industry, says Baluch.