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Dialogue: Robert Sutton, Senior Vice President, Free Zones, Cargo and Logistics, Abu Dhabi Airports

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Robert Sutton, Senior Vice President, Free Zones, Cargo and Logistics abu dhabi airport Sharing his insights on the air cargo industry, Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zoneand more…

  • In your opinion, how has the air cargo industry changed post-COVID-19?

In today’s post-pandemic world, the air cargo industry is undoubtedly evolving. We know that during COVID-19, air cargo capacity has been negatively impacted by widespread travel restrictions and route disruptions. However, air freight is critical to ensuring equitable access to vaccines during this time. Post-pandemic, we have seen an increase in both air and ocean capacity, which has had a knock-on effect on freight rates and demand.

Another pandemic-related industry impact is increased awareness of supply chain risks and the need to mitigate them through the easy adoption of multimodal solutions.for air cargo Carriers, partnerships and joint ventures with other businesses logistics provider Increasingly important, airports can play an important role by ensuring services, assets and solutions continue to support and facilitate intermodal transport.

  • What are the current main driving pillars of the air cargo industry?

We see various key pillars driving the air cargo industry today. New partnerships and greater capacity are a formula driving the latest industry trends, largely as regional and international organizations focus on route and asset optimization. Air cargo growth is also being driven by asset and route strategies as carriers seek to take advantage of new alliances, multi-modal options and coordinated trade. Digitization and the use of technology are also crucial to help shape and drive the industry.

  • How is Abu Dhabi Airport undergoing digital transformation?

As a leading airport operator, we work closely with our partners, stakeholders and wider industry to ensure our digital strategy fulfills its potential and creates new value for those we serve. Partnership investments and adoption of the latest technologies are at the forefront of these efforts, as has been demonstrated by a number of digital transformation-related events in recent years.

For example, we started experimenting with a new enhanced ‘smart travel‘ The system will work with Convergent AI at Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2020 to reduce queue times, streamline processes and provide a more seamless passenger experience. Since then, artificial intelligence and big data have been fundamental to our success in achieving these goals, and recent events further underscore our long-term commitment to digital transformation.

In November 2022, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Groupe ADP, a leading French engineering and operations company, to explore the potential of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) in Abu Dhabi, another example with Abu Dhabi Airports Free zone related (ADAFZ). To further complement our air cargo services and support our partners, we are rapidly expanding our Bonded Area Logistics Facilities and services, utilizing the latest technology in design and operational elements.

Abu Dhabi International Airport welcomes the first SF Express flight

  • What sustainability initiatives have been incorporated to celebrate the Year of Sustainability?

We are proud to have a visible focus on sustainability across our operations, which is one of our brand values ​​and guides us to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s commitment to sustainability through the implementation of global best practices and related initiatives. One of the latest initiatives is the use of carbon credits, which reward our partners based on the efficiency of their processes and their success in minimizing their carbon footprint for environmental purposes.

  • What are the recent developments in the Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone?

In recent months alone, there have been various important developments in our free zone, all of which create additional value and will benefit companies that seize the opportunity to establish and expand their operations in our free zone.We’ve made huge strides in our final stretch goods village and terminal repair items. This project is part of our expansion strategy to increase cargo capacity, enhance operational capabilities and equip our facilities with upgrades to the latest aviation industry standards.

We also commit to strengthening commercial ties and openly exploring global partnership opportunities. We welcomed a delegation of international investors to our premises last November to drive this forward, and we are working with a number of specialist partners to expand our range of support products and services.Covers a wide range of areas such as carbon offsettrade finance and trade digitization, which form part of a growing portfolio of our offerings designed to help boost jobs, streamline processes and add value to our partners.

Most recently, we reported a twofold increase in rental space and properties, including commercial districts, land development parcels and administrative facilities. Our annual rent increased by 256%, reaffirming our position as the unique preferred business destination for local, regional and international organizations from different economic sectors.

  • How can Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone boost business under AD Vision 2030?

First and foremost, our focus on making sure we understand our clients’ business needs and provide them with the basic support they need is a core part of our ongoing efforts to align with our clients. Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. The airport’s free zones, business parks, business centers, one-stop services and logistics parks are all under our jurisdiction, which have helped us build a vibrant business community that is fully in line with the emirate’s economic vision.

While continuing to grow our free zones and facilities, our organizational structure has attracted a diverse client base and we now have businesses from a wide range of sectors including aviation, logistics, e-commerce, ICT and more.

In line with the ambitions of Vision 2030 and our internal strategy, we are still building Midfield Freight Terminala state-of-the-art facility covering 60,000 square meters designed to drive economic diversification and growth by accommodating all forms of air cargo, including temperature- and environment-sensitive products.

  • What challenges are you currently facing?

Like many areas in the supply chain ecosystem, Air freight industry Despite recent progress and positive outcomes, we are still in the post-pandemic recovery phase. Throughout 2023, we expect to see another period of adjustment as capacity, assets, routes and rates normalize, and our role during this period is to ensure that we continue to provide our full support in dealing with our air cargo partnerships Partners and the wider business community within the ADAFZ face challenges.

Excerpt from the June 2023 issue of Logistics News ME.

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