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Gary Chapman

UAE, DUBAI - Transport

Safe Hands

President, dnata

Bio

Leading the Global Management team, Gary Chapman is responsible for the continued growth of dnata’s global network of operations across five continents, in the provision of ground handling, cargo, travel, and flight catering services to over 500 airlines and freight handling companies. He has been a key member of the management team for over two decades. In his current role, he is responsible for the global operations of dnata, the leading air services provider with businesses in 38 countries worldwide as well as a number of other associated company businesses within the Emirates Group. He is also responsible for the support functions of the Emirates Group (Finance, IT, Internal Audit, Human Resources, Medical Services, Legal, Insurance, and Performance Development). Gary is Chairman of Maritime and Mercantile International LLC, Sirocco LLC, and dnata Singapore Pte Ltd.

Could you tell us more about your UK investment in Heathrow? It is impressive because it is spread over 20 acres and three large warehouses. The capacity is about 250,000 […]

Could you tell us more about your UK investment in Heathrow?

It is impressive because it is spread over 20 acres and three large warehouses. The capacity is about 250,000 tons, and we are almost full already. This was an investment that was taken during insecurity over airport expansions in the UK, but we saw an opportunity. It was a £75 million commitment, and we have built three warehouses and integrated them with the traffic flow, meaning the trucks just drive up to a gate, just like on a toll road system. Instead of paying to get in, they hand over their documents, get in, and drive straight through. We have eliminated the process of stopping, parking, and waiting. Some of the drivers didn’t like that at first, but the owners of the operation do because it is much quicker. That is just one part of what we are doing there. We are handling a number of customers including Air New Zealand and Qantas, and we already operate dedicated facilities for Virgin as well. It is a major investment, welcomed by the local authority, which has been very supportive. Anyone who has seen it has been impressed—it is state-of-the-art. We haven’t overcomplicated it. We have employed technology that is proven. Looking at simple things, such as traffic flow, has made a major difference. On the back of that, in the last three years, we have had airlines approach us because they like what we have done and want to work with us, which leads to other opportunities. Importantly, it means that you get people who want to work for you. You start to attract even better people who want to work for you because they like you.

Are you thinking of going into other markets?

We are always looking, but if the opportunity is easy, then someone would have already done it. It is very fragmented in this part of the world. Dubai is our home, so we should be strong in this region. If we are not strong in this region, then we have missed an opportunity and there is something wrong. However, it is very disjointed, political, and government controlled in many places; therefore, the barriers to entry can be quite substantial. If it were as simple as who is best suited for the business, it would be easy, but there are always things you have to deal with in business. Our ability to grow in this region has been much slower than I would like. We are looking at many things in Africa, where we see great opportunities. These markets come with a higher risk profile, but they also come with better opportunities. The mature markets of Europe are more stable, but the margins are being driven down and commoditized too much.

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