Sats first foreign player in Saudi Arabia air cargo market

A worker from Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) moves out from a elevated inflight catering truck into an aircraft.
A worker from Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) moves out from a elevated inflight catering truck into an aircraft.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Singapore - Changi Airport's biggest ground handler, Sats, is investing about $40 million to build new air cargo facilities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia - the first foreign firm to enter the market.

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 told The Straits Times.

A wider network will allow Sats to offer airlines more and faster connections which is key in an increasingly competitive market, he said.

The investment in Dammam is Sats' biggest greenfield project in its air cargo business.

Typically, overseas expansion is through joint ventures and partnerships with existing players.

In Saudi Arabia, 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.

It 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, the airport did 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.

karam@sph.com.sg