Najaf Airport is to have its cargo facilities upgraded with the sole cargo handling contract going to Copperchase Iraq, managing the business under the brand “Pegasus Cargo”.
The multi-million dollar investment by Copperchase includes a new cargo terminal, freighter-parking apron and fully equipped ground handling capabilities.
The capabilities and services provided by Pegasus at Najaf (city pictured) serve the time-sensitive oil and gas market in the South of Iraq, industries within the region, plus companies in and around Baghdad.
Cargo operations director, Rob Smith says: “With up to fifty passenger flights daily through Najaf the import quantity is increasing notably since Pegasus commenced operations.
“The ability to handle scheduled freighter services marks a turning point for the airport and we are in the final stages of negotiations with a carrier that is keen to commence scheduled services.”
Speaking to Air Cargo Week, Smith says business has been increasing steadily as importers, forwarders and airlines have become accustomed to improved facilities and clearance times, and he expects continued growth with scheduled freighter services.
He feels customers benefit from using Najaf, saying: “Compared to other airports there is much less congestion; reliable and effective clearance procedures; zero pilferage or damage to-date; We are generally able to count the time from aircraft arrival to freight cleared and delivered in hours rather than days.”
Smith admits Iraq faces challenges as it evolves and stabilises, especially for conventional road transport and facilities at established airports, but says: “Security at Najaf is significantly better than other locations and we benefit from an excellent geographical advantage in this respect. We receive commendable commitment from the airport authority, freight forwarders and governmental agencies to support our initiatives and expansion plans.”