New broom relishes new challenges

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Ray Wood, head of cargo at Doncaster Sheffield Airport

The role at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) came about as 32-year industry veteran Ray Wood, head of cargo, was looking for a new challenge having worked with airlines for about 20 years.

“The role at DSA is unique in as much that the airport has insourced the cargo handling operations as well as attracting commercial airlines to the airport,” Wood says.

“The opportunity of being able to build upon a fresh cargo operation, with some early successes under its belt but a fairly low baseline, was very attractive to me.

“I think firstly there is a need to reflect on the great accomplishments of the previous year and of the team themselves. DSA insourced the cargo handling operation from April 2018, that set some expected challenges, which have been met and overcome, leading to achieving a record year where our tonnage has grown 42% year-on-year from 12,600 tonnes to 18,000 tonnes.

Operational continuity

The year ahead is planned to be busy and DSA has landed “some new contracts, some of which are set for the summer season,” he says. This means the airport is in a confident position to discuss lengthier operations.

“This brings new operators to DSA for the first time and others adding further to their existing scheduled services. The plan is to build upon the baseline of our existing scheduled cargo carriers and ensure operational continuity throughout the year,” says Wood.

Unlike many commercial airports where the increased capacity of summer passenger-based operations take precedence over cargo and freight, DSA has the capacity, and will, to manage fluctuations between a summer and winter scheduling, he notes.

“DSA is very freighter friendly, which is one of the many things that attracted me to the role, and our core focus is on pure cargo operations. It is one of the unique virtues of DSA, that we can manage various industry verticals which enable us to specialise in the handling of specific cargo types, such as perishables, automotive, and aerospace.”

DSA has a 20-year masterplan with an ambition to grow cargo volumes up to 176,000 tonnes per year. With that comes major investment from owners, the Peel Group, and their vision around the airport’s wider site as a major logistics hub.

The site offers over 280,000 sq m of development space for multimodal logistics facilities. The Masterplan has received support and strong engagement from stakeholders such as the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.