Singapore's biggest ground handler at Changi Airport, Sats, is investing about S$40 million (US$29.6m) to build new air cargo facilities at King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam, Saudi Arabia - the first foreign firm to enter the market, The Straits Times reported.
The move is part of overall plans to expand Sats' reach in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, its chief executive officer and president Alex Hungate said, adding that a wider network will allow
Sats to offer airlines more and faster connections which is key in an increasingly competitive market.
The report said that the investment in Dammam is Sats' biggest greenfield project in its air cargo business.
Granted to its subsidiary SATS Saudi Arabia, the cargo handling concession is valid for 22.5 years and Sats will build a new 20,000 sqm cargo terminal near the airport and within Dammam's new cargo village, the firm said on Monday.
150,000 tonnes of handling capacity
For the planning and implementation of the Cargo Village, which was officially opened last year KFIA has worked in close cooperation with Saudi Customs and Changi Airports International (CAI).
The Sats cargo facilities will include a dedicated cold chain facility to meet the growing needs of the pharmaceutical and food industries to ship high value, temperature-sensitive goods.
When it opens in about two years' the facility will be able to handle up to 150,000 tonnes of cargo annually.
Last year, Dammam airport handled 95,321 tonnes.
"The introduction of a second cargo terminal operator will result in enhanced services, options and increased air cargo capacity for the marketplace," said Turki Al-Jawini, director-general of Dammam's King Fahd International Airport.
The incumbent is a subsidiary of national carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines.
With the expansion in Saudi Arabia, Sats is now operating in more than 50 cities in 14 countries including Singapore.
Nol van Fenema