Erbil International Airport (EIA) has expanded significantly in volume and capacity since dnata has joined in 2010. Passenger volume increased by 53% in 2012, and 35% in 2013, with cargo volume increasing at similar levels. How has dnata dealt with this rapid expansion? What challenges has dnata faced?
dnata has invested significantly into equipment and people over the past four years. We bring considerable expertise to Erbil and believe we have supported the growth of the EIA as a strong partner to EIA. We also believe that our customers know that they are in good hands with dnata, and trust that we will deliver on our promises.

How can the Kurdistan Region enhance its position as a hub for passenger traffic and cargo transshipment?
It is critical for EIA to continue investing in the future. International travelers are pleasantly surprised when they arrive at EIA for the first time—passport control is quick and friendly, and their luggage is often waiting for them at the baggage carousel. However, with the recent growth it is important to continue investing in new infrastructure to meet demands, especially the peak times.

Cargo is an interesting situation. Erbil has become the entry point, not only for Kurdistan, but for the whole of Iraq. I walk through our warehouse and often see shipments destined for Baghdad and sometimes even as far as Basra. This is a great success story, and positions Erbil as not just a local airport, but as a larger regional hub. Establishing Erbil as a regional hub will have a considerable impact on the economic development of the city of Erbil and the Kurdistan Region as a whole, generating income and creating jobs.

I walk through our warehouse and often see shipments destined for Baghdad and sometimes even as far as Basra. This is a great success story, and positions Erbil as not just a local airport, but as a larger regional hub.

What strategy will dnata follow to keep up with EIA’s continuing expansion in volume and capacity? Do you have any concerns in terms of infrastructure being able to keep pace with the expected growth?
Infrastructure at EIA is continually being challenged due to the rapid growth, which makes it challenging to achieve all our goals. The airport and dnata need to act quickly and work together if we are to succeed. dnata has invested considerable amounts into infrastructure improvements, such cold storage for perishables, and we will continue investing millions of dollars into equipment, facilities and personnel each year.

EIA is an import hub for much large-scale industrial equipment for the Region’s development. How has dnata contributed to this development in handling large-scale industrial cargo?
dnata has the ground service equipment required to load and offload any type and any size of aircraft. We are proud to say that all cargo transiting to and from Erbil has done so efficiently.

What makes dnata’s operations unique in the Kurdistan Region in terms of logistical procedures?
The Kurdistan Region is relatively young and is still evolving, so many processes and regulations are new, while some still need to be established. Also, the security processes are different. However, security is a cornerstone of the Kurdistan Region’s success, and dnata does everything we can to support and work together to ensure that security is never compromised.

What are your projections and goals for the medium-term? Does dnata have any plans for expansion into new services at the EIA?
dnata constantly explores new opportunities and in Erbil, we have ideas to increase our range of services, but it is too early to talk about them. We are also interested in investing in airport infrastructure in conjunction with the airport authority to build EIA’s position as a hub for years to come, supporting the Region’s continued growth.