WFS breaks into India with cargo handling deal in Bangalore

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Pictured from left to right are: Pratik Mehta, head - cargo business, Bangalore International Airport Ltd; Hari K. Marar, managing director & chief executive officer, Bangalore International Airport Ltd ; Satyaki Raghunath, chief strategy & development officer, Bangalore International Airport Ltd; Francois Mirallié, group chief financial officer at WFS; Mohammed Esa, senior vice president, group commercial business development & strategy at WFS; and Raveen Pinto, vice president - aviation business, Bangalore International Airport Ltd. Photo: WFS

Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has been awarded a 15-year license to operate its first cargo handling operation in India at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) in a move that is expected to drive air cargo and pharma export growth in Southern India.

WFS has signed a partnership with Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) and, in May 2023, will assume responsibility for the development, operation, management and maintenance of one of the cargo terminals at India’s third-largest cargo gateway for international import and export cargo. WFS will also operate and invest in the expansion of the airport’s dedicated cold chain facility.

The cargo terminal awarded to WFS at BLR Airport, has the capacity to handle 210,000 metric tonnes of cargo a year. From May 2023, it will be used exclusively by WFS to handle international cargo. WFS will increase its throughput capacity potential to serve cargo volumes in excess of 250,000 metric tonnes annually.

As operators of the dedicated cold chain facility at the airport, WFS and BIAL will begin a two-phase expansion of the dedicated operation, initially doubling its capacity to 80,000 metric tonnes per annum before increasing to a throughput capacity in excess of 150,000 metric tonnes per annum, post completion of phase two.

These investments are timed to support the next stage of India’s economic growth. India, the sixth-largest global economy and one of the fastest-growing large economies, is the single largest provider of generic drugs globally – handling over 50% of total global demand and accounting for 50% of the global vaccine manufacturing market – and boasts one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world.

Craig Smyth, chief executive of WFS, described the partnership with BIAL as a “landmark collaboration” at one of the world’s most exciting air logistics hubs.

“WFS has been waiting a long time to establish its own presence in India. We are honoured to have earned this opportunity to work with the very accomplished and ambitious team at BIAL to realise the outstanding potential of BLR Airport.

“This is already a very successful airport, supported by a thriving manufacturing and services industry, and a highly skilled regional workforce. To this, WFS will add our highest international standards for safety, security and operational excellence, our ability to invest in optimising and expanding BLR Airport’s cargo infrastructure, and our global relationships with airlines and freight forwarders,” he said.

Barry Nassberg, WFS’ group chief commercial officer, added: “Few airports in the world combine the growth generators we see in Bengaluru, making this long-term partnership with BIAL a big step in our expansion in Asia.

“This is a premier airport that understands its potential and recognizes the way to achieve its growth ambitions is to work with an industry-leading global partner like WFS. Together, BIAL and WFS will work to sustain growth in the long-term and to achieve the airport’s goal of creating a robust ecosystem that can cater for up to one million tonnes of cargo a year.”

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