Muscat, Oct 24 - The Oman Aviation Group’s (OAG) National Air Cargo Strategy aims to increase cargo tonnage to 780,000 tonnes by 2030 and 1.5 million tonnes by 2040. It also aims to attract new freight-related ancillary businesses to the region while increasing cargo loads for Oman Air and other airlines servicing the Sultanate. This was revealed at the Air Cargo In Focus event held at Muscat International Airport on Wednesday in the presence of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications.
The event included a showcase of the air cargo terminal, a walkthrough of the warehouse and a presentation by Mustafa Al Hinai, CEO, OAG.
At the event, OAG signed two MoUs that further strengthen its cargo capabilities, knowledge base and expertise. The first MoU was signed with ground.net, a pan-European ground services alliance launched in 2013. It provides customer airlines with streamlined access to high-quality and customised passenger, ramp and cargo services. OAS is set to become the first non-European member in the next 12 months, which will provide the organisation with access to new markets, knowhow, best practices and training.
The second MoU was signed with The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), the only organisation representing all segments of the air freight supply chain. It supports, informs and connects companies and organisations of all sizes with the aim of developing an efficient, modern and unified air cargo industry worldwide. The National Air Cargo Strategy is designed to strengthen sea-land connectivity in Suhar, Duqm and Salalah to build up their capabilities as strategic distribution hubs. “Air cargo represents an enormous opportunity for Oman,” said Hinai.
“By modernising our cargo infrastructures and implementing an ambitious air cargo strategy, we will be able to tap into niche cargo corridors in several key markets and further drive economic development across Oman.” Oman is laying the foundation for strong growth in air cargo and forecasts that its current capacity of 200,000 tonnes will grow to more than 780,000 tonnes by 2030. The air cargo demand in, out and transiting through the Middle East is expected to benefit from growth that is increasingly driven by emerging and developing economies like China, Africa, India and Indonesia.
Furthermore, global air cargo traffic is projected to grow at 3.8 per cent annum, with the Middle East, Africa and South Asia projecting the strongest growth. A 2017 IATA report stated that global goods trade grew by 4.6 per cent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2017, well above its five-year average pace of 2.6 per cent. Since 2013, Oman has seen year-on-year growth in cargo tonnage. From 122,000 tonnes in 2013 to 210,000 tonnes in 2017— a 72 per cent increase — it is currently on track to achieve more than 220,671 tonnes by end of 2018. Driven by globalisation, air cargo composition is shifting from electronics and consumer goods towards perishables, foodstuff, healthcare and pharma, creating a growing need for just-in-time supply chains. The new air cargo terminal was designed specifically to meet this growing demand in air freight.
Comprising 22,500 square metres, the new cargo warehouse combines leading freight management technologies with best cargo industry practices and is equipped with the latest Material Handling System which offers seamless and automated handling of cargo containers and pallets. The system utilises cutting-edge technology and an elevated transport vehicle (ETV) to move and store cargo in a systematic and organised manner.
With a significant portion of Muscat’s import and export cargo made up of perishables and temperature-controlled goods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and pharmaceutical products, the fully air-conditioned terminal, together with its cold room storage facility, ensures that cold chain integrity is maintained throughout the entire handling process, which is of critical importance throughout the summer season.