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Emirates SkyCargo gets ready to grow global trade in 2020

Emirates SkyCargo is gearing up to facilitate global trade and cargo movement in 2020. The division aims to achive this through a combination of innovative product development and investment in 'fit for purpose' infrastructure.

"The global air cargo industry witnessed what was a very challenging year in 2019. Economic uncertainty, tensions in global trade and unrest in key markets negatively impacted cargo volumes. However, the tough market conditions were an opportunity for us to review our core offering to our customers," said Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo.
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"The outlook for 2020 is more positive with the air cargo industry set to post a modest recovery thanks to improved economic activity and trade growth. With our commitment to 'deliver as promised' backed by a global network covering over 155 destinations centred in Dubai, our modern fleet of wide-bodied aircraft and our SkyCentral terminals, the division is well-positioned to support trade and economic growth in line with the Dubai Silk Road Project.

"With Expo 2020 Dubai also set to kick off in October 2020, we will see a surge in movement of goods to and from Dubai and we are working with our partners to provide specialised air freight services for this once in a lifetime event," he added.

Specialised products

In 2019, the division continued to roll out specialised products catered for specific industry verticals.

Emirates Delivers, for example, an e-commerce platform enables consumers, both individuals and small businesses, to purchase products from any US-based online retail store and have it delivered in the UAE. The e-commerce platform is part of the division's broader strategy to promote Dubai as an e-commerce fulfilment hub for customers based in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Other products from the cargo portfolio showed a strong performance despite challenging market conditions:

Emirates Fresh, the division's specialised product for perishables has flown more than 400,000 tonnes of perishables. In November and December of 2019, the carrier operated nine charter flights from Santiago, Chile uniquely for carrying cherries.

The year-on-year increase of 6% in the volume of high-value goods that were flown under Emirates Safe VAL, the division's product for transportation of precious goods, including a 12% transportation increase of domestic cats and dogs.

Fit-for-purpose infrastructure and capabilities

In 2019, the division unveiled a new handling facility dedicated for pharmaceutical cargo at Chicago airport, one of the most important pharma stations for the division across the world. The facility features temperature-controlled zones for acceptance and delivery, pharma cargo build-up and break down, storage and direct ramp access and is also certified under EU GDP guidelines.

In November 2019, the division moved its pharma handling operations at Copenhagen airport to a dedicated GDP certified facility.

Both initiatives are part of the carrier’s objective to offer enhanced protection for pharmaceutical cargo, not just at the Dubai hub, but from origin to destination under the pharma corridors programme.


In 2019, SkyCargo's SkyCentral terminals in Dubai handled an average of four pieces of cargo on a 24/7 basis. Over 700 staff on duty helped process around 360,000 individual packages through these terminals enabling the airline's fleet of over 270 aircraft move approximately 7,000 tonnes of cargo – the equivalent of more than 60 full Boeing 777 freighters, between Dubai and the rest of the world.

A fleet of 49 trucks, including 12 refrigerated trucks, made an average 175 trips daily in 2019 to connect the two cargo terminals. Acting as a seamless conveyor belt between the two cargo terminals, the trucking system helped connect cargo from touchdown in one airport to take-off at another airport and vice versa in under five hours.

Overall, more than 307,000 tonnes of cargo were transferred by the trucking system between the two airports in 2019 and more than 1.6 million tonnes of cargo over the five years since the start of trucking operations in 2014.

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