Etihad Rail is in discussions with airport authorities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to build dedicated rail logistics parks to sit alongside Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai World Central, boosting the UAE’s integrated trade infrastructure network.
The concept for the two facilities was launched at meetings with relevant stakeholders in late 2013, according to John Lesniewski, Etihad Rail’s director of sales and commercial agreements.
“We’re in the concept design of these things as we speak,” he said, noting that the centres would operate alongside existing logistics hubs at the two airports and offer multi-modal solutions to third party logistics providers.
Such centres would offer greater flexibility to third party logistics providers to be able to offer customers a range of logistics options encompassing air, road and rail, as was currently the case in other international hubs such as Forth Worth Alliance Airport in Dallas.
The centres are unlikely to be launched before the completion of the UAE’s national railway network, slated for completion in late 2017/early 2018, said Mr Lesniewski.
Logistics parks connecting both rail and air networks would positively impact the country’s air freight sector, according to David Kerr, vice president of cargo at Etihad Airways, which has been party to discussions on the new centres.
“Clearly rail is a high-volume business, and air freight globally is only 1 per cent of the global logistics platform. But if you start to integrate that, any growth in any kind of multi-modal area that taps into the air freight market is going to be good news,” said Mr Kerr.