Beating the heat: how dnata keeps perishable goods farm fresh in Dubai

  • Mangoes, strawberries and tomatoes most popular amongst 135,000 tonnes of goods handled annually at Dubai airports
  • Advanced temperature-controlled ‘cool dollies’ used to transport goods from aircraft to storage facilities, maintaining integrity of perishable items in extreme heat
  • dnata’s cool chain facilities were instrumental in the global handling of Covid-19 vaccines

dnata, a leading global air and travel services provider, handled 135,000 tonnes of perishable goods through its advanced cool chain facilities in Dubai in the 12 months up to March 31, 2023.

The most popular imported products handled into Dubai included fruit and vegetables such as mangoes, strawberries, tomatoes, avocadoes and cherries, primarily from locations in Europe, the Far East, South Asia and Africa. dnata also managed the export of a significant quantity of local UAE perishable goods, including large shipments of frozen fish to Ethiopia, bread and yoghurt to Djibouti, and fresh milk to Somalia.

Best-in-class infrastructure and equipment

dnata continues to make significant investments in infrastructure and equipment to ensure efficient and safe handling of perishable goods. With ambient temperatures rising to over 40° Celsius during the summer in Dubai, dnata’s cutting-edge facilities are equipped to maintain all IATA standards for temperature control ranges at all stages of the cargo handling process. This includes transportation to and from the aircraft in high-tech ‘cool dollies’, specially designed to serve perishable and pharmaceutical industries with a closed temperature-controlled system. 

dnata’s cool chain facilities at its Dubai World Central (DWC) hub provide a total of 22 separate storage areas, offering a range of temperatures from -20°C Deep Freeze through to Refrigeration and 25°C Controlled Room Temperature.

“We are committed to consistently investing in infrastructure and the latest, digital technologies to strengthen Dubai’s position as a leading global cargo hub. Despite extreme weather conditions in the summer, our world-class facilities, advanced equipment and close cooperation with our partners and authorities ensure that each piece of perishable cargo remains at its optimum storage temperature throughout the transportation process. We will continue to enhance our operations and processes to maximize efficiency and deliver the highest value for our customers globally,” said Guillaume Crozier, dnata’s Senior Vice President, UAE Cargo & Global Cargo Strategy.

Leading handler of Pharma

dnata plays a key role in the safe handling of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in Dubai. Its facilities include dedicated Deep Freeze and refrigerated storage for health care and life sciences products. It maintains Key Performance Indicators established by CEIV, with the ability to deliver shipments within two hours of flight arrival.

dnata’s Dubai cool chain facilities were integral in the safe handling of global Covid-19 vaccines transportation, and in the 12 months up to 31 March 2023, it handled close to 8,000 tonnes of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. 

dnata’s Dubai cargo facilities at both DWC and Dubai International (DXB) airports are certified by IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma). This demonstrates the company’s ability to move pharmaceutical products under the strictest standards.

Close collaboration with authorities

After the offloading process from the aircraft is complete, imported goods are transported to the dnata warehouse facility via cool dollies and moved directly into temperature-controlled storage depending on their requirements. They are then inspected by stakeholders where required including Dubai Municipality, Ministry of Health, and Customs to ensure product quality, and health and safety standards are met. Once approved, goods are then dispatched to the awaiting customer.

Large-scale shipments

Due to its ideal global logistical location, dnata’s vast Dubai facilities handle and safely store a broad range of cargo, working closely alongside the company’s airline partners. These products either arriving, transiting or departing to and from destinations around the world, range from clothing and shoes, to vehicles and aircraft engines. 

dnata is a leading global air and travel services provider. Established in 1959, the company offers quality and safe ground handling, cargo, travel, catering and retail services in 38 countries across six continents. In the financial year 2022-23, dnata’s customer-oriented teams handled over 710,000 aircraft turns, moved over 2.7 million tonnes of cargo, uplifted 111.4 million meals, and recorded a total transaction value (TTV) of travel services of US$ 1.9 billion.