Exclusive Part 1 - Dnata – Rising Star on the UK Handling Scene

The successful Dubai-based ground handling entity which is traditionally a large player in the Middle and Far East has been quietly but surely expanding its airport handling activities in the United Kingdom over the past couple of years. And more is to come!

Gary Morgan  /  source photos: jmd
Gary Morgan / source photos: jmd

CargoForwarder Global, in an exclusive interview with dnata’s UK CEO, Gary Morgan, gained an insight into what has been achieved so far and what they plan for the future in the United Kingdom airport ground handling scene.

Today’s UK dnata originated with the takeover in 2010 of Plane Handling, a UK based cargo handling company which at that time already had quite a large airline portfolio.
The main target was the acquisition of Plane Handling along with the available operation of Aviance at London Heathrow, which was more geared towards ramp and passenger handling activities.
The acquisition of the above mentioned companies were the catalyst for the buildup of dnata UK’s cargo and ground handling activities

Quite some work remains to be done
Gary Morgan, who before joining dnata spent many years in management positions at Servisair and Menzies Aviation, has not had an easy job these past couple of years.
Firstly, the integration of both Plane Handling and Aviance, which in essence went very smoothly, were a tremendous workload for his management team and the staff.
“We are a few years down the road since then,” says Gary, but adds that “there is still much work to accomplish in order to bring our product up to exactly where we want it.”

Quality, flexibility and adaptability
These are the main attributes which Gary Morgan and his managers require their staff to excel in.
“Without these, Gary adds, we will not continue to be a market leader in the airport handling industry.”
dnata has proven itself as a worldwide leader in most aspects of airport and aircraft handling and the aim is to expand these standards even further within the UK.

How then did the company which employs over 2,000 staff in the UK manage to integrate both Plane Handling and Aviance into its corporate thinking in such a short time?
Gary Morgan has a simple answer.
“We did not just take over both companies and decide to swallow them up. No! - we listened to the views and studied the many years of experience gained by those who joined us in the dnata camp. We have incorporated much of what we learnt into the dnata UK machinery.”

dnata City project investment
Almost 100 million UK pounds have been invested in what the company calls “dnata City.”
This impressive complex of five warehouses in one location at London’s Heathrow airport is the heart of dnata UK’s cargo handling set-up, including dedicated facilities for Virgin Atlantic Airways and Qatar Airways.
It became fully operational in February of 2014 and offers their clients a total of around 50,000 sqm of working space along with an impressive office and administration area.

dnata City is in Gary’s view “a peoples place”
“Our staff are our most important asset and this location is where they really like to come and work,” he adds.
No wonder when one sees the impressive array of buildings which offer staff modern working conditions and state-of- the-art handling systems.
Brand new technology drives the handling process and Gary claims it to be more than user friendly.
The staff have their own gym on site as well as canteen and rest facilities.
If the staff are over the moon with it, then the clients must be as well.
dnata also operates a further two facilities at Building 549 and South Point, which is exclusively for Cathay Pacific Airways, which are located outside of dnata City.  

Things are on the move in the UK cargo scene
Gary is convinced that there will be a continued consolidation in the cargo handling scene in the UK.
dnata itself has almost doubled its tonnage throughput in the United Kingdom since the start of business in 2010.
Additional cargo handling facilities have been opened in Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, East Midlands Airport and London Gatwick.
The company has also moved to larger refurbished cargo facilities at Manchester airport which will give them 20 percent more capacity.
On top of all this dnata’s UK CEO is proud of the fact that a total of 14 new carriers signed contracts with them during 2014.

The move into opening new cargo handling facilities in the UK has pushed the company to a further investment - namely, in the start-up of its own Regional Trucking Network with an inter-airport RFS service providing links between a total of 16 airports throughout the UK and Ireland.
“An investment which is well worth it and which gives our clients even better all-in service,” says Gary.

John Mc Donagh

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