The new cargo terminal at the Salalah Airport promises boost in cargo handling in Salalah, which is fast emerging as a major link for sea-air cargo movement from Far East and Indian Subcontinent to Europe, Africa and USA.
According to a senior official responsible for cargo movement at the airport, the new facility is a value addition to the port city’s strategic location as the shipment from Salalah is likely to be cheaper due to short shipment time and the location’s capacity to handle sea, air and road for transportation of goods.
Ali al Yafai, (pictured), Commercial and Marketing Manager at Salalah Airport, spoke about the key advantages of Salalah as centre of cargo handling. The “key advantages”, according to him, are “linking-pin between East and West, not only on the sea shipping lines but also by air. Salalah has a competitive advantage supported by a mega-container port and reduced time of connections to key markets.”
“Cargo movement from Salalah takes less time or call it a reduced connection time, which means quick time to market for air freighted goods and products particularly high value goods to EU, horn of Africa, and the US East Coast,” he said.
Among the airport specific advantages are modern cargo plant housed with state-of-the-art facilities and handling equipment, strategic geographical, and central location (within the city parameters) and within short distance, just 15km away, from the Port of Salalah.
Among other advantages listed by Al Yafai are separate access road to the Port of Salalah, proximity to local businesses, and the location of shipping agencies. There is availability of lands next to the plants and space availability is there to house freight forwarders closer to the Airport.
“Due to the best possible security in place, cargo movement is possible 24 hours. Moreover there is attractive aeronautical and cargo handling charges, and its proximity to populous markets, and short connections to key markets like Europe, Africa, US East Coast and regional markets such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.”
Al Yafai called the specific advantages of the Port of Salalah hugely in favour of smooth cargo handling from the newly built cargo terminal at the Salalah Airport. “The port is the second largest port in MEA (after Jabel Ali) In terms of container handlings. It has less connection time to major markets as compared with other ports in the region, and five per cent of containers are transshipped to other ports, that can be air-freighted.”
Potential products that can be airfreighted are perishables from domestic market like fisheries, fruits (banana, coconuts) and other agricultural products, poultry and dairy products.
Prominent among the sea-air products are machineries, engines, and many types of spare parts, high value goods like telephones, tablets, branded apparels and fresh flowers.
Giving more details about the new air cargo terminal, Al Yafai said: “The building is equipped with an automated cargo handling system, which allows smooth handling of cargo containers and pallets. It is also equipped with a sophisticated handling technology to transport and store goods in an organised manner, leading to efficient handling and faster delivery of goods, thus increasing efficiency and productivity.”
The facility is equipped with special refrigerators to maintain the shelf life of products like fruits, vegetables, frozen meat and pharmaceutical products.
Another important facility is live animal centre, which is spread over 2,500 square metres. It can accommodate all live animals and contains tools and equipment to ensure that the animals are given adequate space and care before being transported or delivered to aircraft,” he said.
The facility, according to Al Yafai, is equipped with a quarantine warehouse and hazardous materials and radioactive materials storage facilities. These facilities can store hazardous materials and radioactive shipments in a safe and isolated environment.
For high value goods there are special rooms as the cargo building is also fully equipped with security and surveillance systems that operate around the clock.
Divided in two floors, the air cargo terminal has 14 loading and off loading stations, offices of import and export and goods clearance. Care has been taken to make the facility a one-stop-shop for efficient and quick handling of goods. It has offices of relevant ministries, Royal Oman Police, other government agencies, airlines and shipping companies.