dnata strengthens BRU regional position with new cargo center

Today, Dubai-based ground handler dnata opened a new cargo center at Brussels Airport (BRU), strengthening the airport’s regional positioning with increased capacity and specialized facilities.

dnata invested EUR €8 million in the development of 14,000 square-meter cargo center, which includes 4,500 square-meters of warehouse space and the capacity for 125,000 tonnes of cargo per annum. According to the company, the facilities include “the latest technologies” and dedicated zones for the handling of specialized cargo, including perishables, pharmaceuticals, dangerous goods, live animals, aircraft engines and vehicles. The cargo center opening has also created 100 local jobs within the company.

dnata’s first customer at BRU is Singapore Airlines, which has eight weekly flights operated by a 747-400 freighter, with an annual capacity of 45,000 tonnes.

In western Europe’s Benelux states – comprised of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg – dnata already provides ground handling services at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) to 25 cargo and eight passenger carriers. The ground handler said it plans to develop close cooperation between and leverage synergies between its operations at the two airports.

Brussels Airport Company CEO Arnaud Feist said that the ground handler has already positioned itself as a key player at the airport due to its dedicated infrastructure for pharmaceuticals, which complements BRU’s strategy to provide specialized infrastructure for vital industry in the Netherlands.

In recent years, BRU has developed itself as an alternative to AMS – its freight hub neighbor to the north – which has notoriously become overly congested with traffic. For 2018, 543,493 tonnes of cargo moved through BRU, a 1.5 percent increase compared to the year prior. AMS’s cargo handle, comparatively, fell 2.5 percent in 2018 to 1.72 million tonnes, and attributed the decline to a decrease in both inbound and outbound cargo. So, although the scale of AMS’s cargo operations dwarfs that of BRU, AMS has continued to struggle since the start of the year with loss of cargo volumes leaking to other airports in the European region.

Given increased high competition between European airports, BRU and its cargo community, Air Cargo Belgium, have worked to establish the airport as a center for specialized cargo operations through a variety of measures. Most recently, BRU implemented the use of Nallian’s BRUCloud to facilitate secure data-sharing between airport stakeholders across the supply chain and is also working to establish a cool-chain corridor in partnership with Hong Kong Airport (HKG) and Pharma.Aero. BRU also recently welcomed Sichuan Airlines’ for the launch of its services between Europe and China at the airport.

The addition of dnata as a third cargo handler at BRU – after Swissport and Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) – is welcome as it creates new capacity and expands specialized service offerings at the airport, which could help attract volumes from carriers operating in the European region.