Hamburg and Dubai to Strengthen Aviation Ties

The two cities aim at deepening their cooperation in aviation and logistics related projects. Both locations are heavyweights in this fast growing industrial sector. Which particular opportunities exist for intensifying the bilateral cooperation was discussed last week at a Hamburg-held panel, moderated by CargoForwarder Global.

Panelists (l > r) Olaf Lawrenz, Airbus / Michael Eggenschwiler, HAM Airport  /  Nasser Al Madani, Dubai Airport Free Zone /  Ibrahim Al Janahi, Jebel Ali Free Zone -  source: HS
Panelists (l > r) Olaf Lawrenz, Airbus / Michael Eggenschwiler, HAM Airport / Nasser Al Madani, Dubai Airport Free Zone / Ibrahim Al Janahi, Jebel Ali Free Zone - source: HS

The sky seems to be the limit. There are huge biz opportunities for both Hamburg-based international acting enterprises and existing or potential new partners that have settled in Dubai in recent times. This was the general consensus among the roughly 70 experts and participants that attended the Business Forum held at Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce. 
Both cities have developed to becoming exceptionally important places for trade and commerce in their respective hemispheres, privileged by their major sea ports, the highly developed infrastructure and also –as major part of the package – the paramount importance of aviation.

Emirates is moving to DWC around 2020
Ibrahim Al Janahi, Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer of the Jebel Ali Free Zone – JAFZA, outlined, why big players like Kuehne + Nagel, Hellman, DHL Global Forwarding and an array of other logistics companies decided to invest in Dubai. It’s because they were attracted by the dynamic of the place, that is flanked by massive political support, and the outlook to capitalize on the city’s thriving economy.  These and more requirements like financial assistance are fully met by Dubai, emphasized panel speaker Nasser Al Madani, Assistant Director General, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority. Once Dubai’s mega airport World Central (DWC) will be fully operational “we will become a multi modal hub offering transport by air, sea, road and soon also rail,” said Mr. Al Janahi. In fact, there are advanced plans to build a railway for transporting containers from both the sea and the new airport to the six member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, “including to Saudi Arabia,” the manager announced. Once set on track, Emirates Airlines will move all operations from its current hub Dubai International to Dubai World Central. It looks like this will happen in 2020, announced Al Janahi
He went on to say that today more than 15 percent of Dubai’s GDP is generated by the aviation and logistics sector, which is growing at an average rate of 7 percent per annum.

Aviation is one of Hamburg’s industrial strongholds
Hamburg’s logistics sector on the other hand is benefitting since a long time from its privileged geographical position close to the North and Baltic Seas, and the direct links by air, road, rail or inland waterway vessels to the emerging markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Most years since the two Germanys reunited in 1989 the city’s GDP outgrew the country’s average gross product rate.
Particularly civil aviation is a key driver, with more than 40,000 extremely qualified specialists working in this sector. Due to the huge Airbus plant, Lufthansa Technik’s headquarters and maintenance facilities, and Hamburg Airport the city has become the third biggest site in civil aviation worldwide, after Seattle and Toulouse. In addition to the aforementioned trio there are some 300 small and medium-sized firms active in aviation, who have united in a Hanse-Aerospace named association for coordinating and bundling common interests. They all have meanwhile become members of the Aviation Cluster – no matter if they are large or small entities.

EK is serving HAM double daily by operating Boeing 777s - Source: EK
EK is serving HAM double daily by operating Boeing 777s - Source: EK

So which are the fields where linking activities would make sense?

This is what the panel came up with:
Hamburg could support Dubai in transferring automation and other advanced technologies used in logistics to improve the efficiency of Dubai World Central-based forwarding agents or ground handlers. This would also include improving operational efficiency by automating warehouse and storage processes and bring in robots to take over job routine. This package requires new management forms to facilitate systematic improvements.

Besides transferring know-how and technical skills CEO Michael Eggenschwiler from Hamburg Airport recommended intensifying vocational training programs. To the list of subjects to be accomplished improving supply chain management and also freight forwarding processes should be added.
In this context he announced the building of a large state-of-the-art distribution center at his airport for faster processing of urgently needed goods like aircraft components or spare parts for the maritime industry. 

COO Olaf Lawrenz of Airbus subsidiary Satair emphasized the importance of vocational training. In the United Arab Emirates, like anywhere in this world, expats are being replaced step by step with local staff. “Of our Dubai-based 70 staff meanwhile more than half are Dubai citizens,” he said. “But an essential requirement for being hired by Airbus is that local candidates are exceptionally well trained.”

The initiative tabled by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce for creating an aviation cluster in Dubai similar to the one existing under the roof of Hanse-Aerospace in Northern Germany was welcomed and supported by both panelists Al Madani and Al Janahi. Both delegates from Dubai also said that cooperating closer in the MRO sector (Maintenance – Repair – Overhaul) complemented by setting up educational institutions to provide in-depth knowledge would be a target standing high on their agenda. 

So it seems things look good that both sides will bring at least some of the aviation and logistics topics tabled last week at the panel to successful fruition. It’s almost inevitable, since Emirates Airlines is the by far biggest customer of the mammoth Airbus A380 that to a large extent is manufactured in the plane maker’s Hamburg production halls. This includes a comprehensive and enduring program of after-sales support which takes mainly place in Dubai.

Heiner Siegmund