Case Study: RSA seeks first-mover advantage with new Dubai South air cargo terminal

RSA Global was one of the first 3PLs to establish operations in Dubai South back in 2009, and now it is one of the first air cargo specialists to establish a dedicated air freight terminal in the Aviation District.
Rsa global, Rsa logistics, RSA National, Air cargo, Dubai south


RSA National, the joint venture between US-based air cargo operator National and UAE-based multimodal 3PL specialist RSA Global, has launched a new air cargo terminal airside at Dubai World Central (DWC).

The opening of this multimodal smart transit hub for road, sea and air, will drive growth in the logistics sector, which is set to increase by 4.8% by 2021, according to Abishek Ajay Shah, co-founder and group CEO of RSA Global.

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“RSA Global is a home-grown brand and we have been inspired by the UAE leadership’s vision to build the aviation capital of the world,” he said. “We believe the launch of RSA National’s flagship air cargo terminal is a game changer for the UAE’s aviation and logistics industry to claim the number one spot. We have designed this smart facility to deliver innovative multimodal, tech-forward supply chain solutions and plan to expand as the region’s demands grow. The sky’s the limit.”

Asked by Logistics Middle East how RSA National had approached the concept of a ‘smart terminal’ for air cargo, Abishek explained that it came down the elimination of unnecessary touchpoints airside. “The difference here is that although it won’t be automated and will be manually operated until we figure out the customers’ flows and other elements, its smart in terms of how we’ve set-up the airside systems,” he said.

“In conjunction with Dubai Police and Dubai Customs, we’ve designed the facility from the start to reduce touchpoints airside. Reducing touchpoints enables us to be quicker and get cargo on and off the runway much faster than any other air cargo facility,” he added.

Abishek Ajay Shah, co-founder and group CEO of RSA Global.

According to Abishek, this was done by creating new security levels within the facility. “So we have a barrier and scanners that demarcate where the airside part of the facility starts. There’s no second touchpoint,” he said.

RSA National’s vision is to operate as a one-stop, boutique integrator offering multimodal supply chain solutions: specialising in innovative and quality services for its customers in established and emerging sectors as well as niche products including perishables and dangerous goods. Speaking during the launch of the new facility, Ajay Shah, the chairman of RSA Global, said that joint ventures such as that with National had been key to the growth of the company.

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“We came to the UAE in 2001 and saw the opportunity available. We have always sought to challenge the way the supply chain operates to enhance the service for our customers,” he said. “Through strategic partnerships we have expanded to offer specialist logistics services for key verticals, from general cargo to hazardous goods and cold chain. This joint-venture takes us a step closer to our ultimate goal of being able to provide all multi-modal services to our customers in the region.”

RSA Global now has 4.5-million sqft of warehousing space in the UAE and 25 operating sites in 13 cities in three countries. Through this, Shah said that the partnership with National was a key turning pointing for the 3PL. “The partnership between RSA and National could not be a better fit. As a US-based carrier, National’s global ambition and freight expertise coupled with RSA’s contract logistics and emerging market footprint offers the UAE market an unrivalled solution. This unique offering brings together the multimodal solution with a seamless connectivity.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports

According to Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, the new air cargo terminal will immediately benefit from Dubai’s geo-strategic location and the forward-thinking leadership of the aviation sector. “We have some of the most enlightened and progressive leadership of any nation in the world that really understands what it takes to make a country and an economy successful,” he said.

“In 2010 we opened Al Maktoum International and it’s significant that we did not with a passenger operation but with a cargo operation, it’s been fascinating to watch this whole sector grow and develop very quickly,” Griffiths added.

He explained that the contribution of key partners such as Emirates SkyCargo, dnata and now RSA National is invaluable and testament to the level of cooperation enjoyed across the aviation industry. “We also have an unparalleled geocentric advantage, with a third of the world’s population within a four hour flight. This current facility has 13,000sqm of space, with a further 18,000sqm due to come online by 2019 and this will benefit the growth of traffic we’re seeing,” he said.

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In the first half of the year DWC has handled 475,190 tons of cargo, a 7.1% growth compared to the first half of 2017. And during the whole of that year the air cargo sector grew more than 9%, according to Griffiths. “DWC is now home to 23 freight operators and offers the whole global supply chain services to 68 destinations worldwide. Once complete, it will have a 16-million ton capacity per year. This can’t be achieved without the contribution of all our partners, such as RSA National.”

The terminal’s location on the Dubai Logistics Corridor linking DWC to Jebel Ali port will give customers multimodal access through one single supplier.

As an Authorised Economic Operator and with Dubai Police and Customs situated on-site, customers will experience faster clearances and inspection prioritisation for a smoother transaction.

RSA National specialises in innovative and tech forward solutions for the retail, ecommerce, and perishables sectors, as well as government and humanitarian programmes. These are the sectors where Abishek envisions the greatest volume coming from. “We want to continue to develop around the notion of a single touchpoint for our customers across a large portion of the facility,” he told Logistics Middle East. “To achieve that we’ll look to position our own aircraft based out of this facility to further enhance the capabilities of what we can offer.”

We’ll also create solutions that are critical to key verticals that need quick and efficient logistics, such as retail, government and defence, perishables and fashion. Our geographic location in Dubai, with access to two thirds of the world’s population within an 8 hour flying time will be a huge advantage,” he added.

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All sectors are growing in this region due to its continued reliance on imported perishables and goods; the increased adoption of e-commerce; and the impact of preparing for, and running, Expo 2020 and other major events.

RSA National has successfully completed 13,000 sqm of built up area, and has the ability to scale up within its 56,000 sqm footprint in DWC, in line with the growing demand forecast, according to statements made by RSA officials during the launch event.

“Today we are delighted to celebrate the inauguration of RSA National’s air cargo terminal at DWC.  The RSA National air cargo terminal is an impressive and welcomed development and supports Dubai’s efforts to remain at the forefront of aviation and logistics globally,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.

“The completion of the first phase of the first commercial cargo terminal at DWC is an important step for RSA National in the context of the UAE aviation industry, a vital driving force of the country’s economic diversification plan,” added Jacob Matthew, president – Middle East and Pac Rim and board member, National.

“Non-oil sectors such as manufacturing, aviation and logistics are important contributors to the GDP with a contribution expected to account for nearly 90% of the economy by 2025,” he said. “The cargo industry itself is witnessing major developments and recently recorded robust growth. Innovation in the transport industry is important, and as logistics providers with our own aircraft fleet, we constantly strive to improve efficiency around the movement of goods and also customer service.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports added: “We have witnessed impressive freight growth at DWC since it first opened in 2010. The airport has quickly ascended the global rankings for international freight volumes and is now ranked in the top 20. We have achieved this by developing and implementing leading-edge customer centric processes, technology and infrastructure. RSA National’s innovative and tech forward mindset is fully aligned with this approach and we are honoured to celebrate this great achievement with them today.”

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