Middle Eastern airports such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and now Istanbul’s new airport have always been seen as the leaders in the Middle East air cargo scene. Nobody gave second thoughts to Bahrain as a potential competitor. Will this change soon?
Large cargo investment planned
It seems that the Bahrain government is intent on encouraging airlines to use Bahrain Airport more as an air cargo turnaround point.
Bahrain Airport which has just one handler, Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) handles more than 50 airlines, only a few of which are all cargo carriers. Figures show that the airport presently handles around 125,000 tons per annum in a 19,000 sqm facility which is equipped with modern technique and also their own cool centre.
Not enough it seems!
The Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has given the French engineering company Egis a contract to act as consultant to the airport in the planning and erection of a new cargo handling area.
A total of 22 million Bahrain Dinar (Euro 46.6 million) have been allocated to the project. The new cargo area which will be built north of the airport will consist of updated warehouses, aircraft parking positions as well as other cargo related facilities. The new cargo area will in part be dedicated to the handling of express shipments of which the airport currently handles almost 40,000 tons per year.
A move was made in 2015 by the Bahrain Logistics Board to gradually expand the logistics sector in the Kingdom and make Bahrain more attractive for logistics companies. It was not disclosed as to when the new cargo area will be fully operational.
Gulf Air take share in BAS
In other news it was disclosed that Bahrain based Gulf Air Holding has acquired a 44% share in Bahrain Airport Services. The handler presently has a contract with the airport for supplying ground handling services. This runs until at least 2034. Gulf Air which is as far as fleet size goes still a rather small carrier in the region, operate 33 aircraft on regional and international routes.
The move is seen as an attempt to further consolidate Bahrain’s aviation services under one roof and streamline cargo and passenger services to make them more attractive to airlines. The present airport modernization programme is said to be costing the Kingdom something in the region of just over USD 1 billion.
John Mc Donagh