Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo (NYSE: DAL) are to move into the new purpose-built dnata City East, London Heathrow's most state-of-the-art cargo facility. The move supports the airlines' growing cargo businesses, enhances their trans-Atlantic partnership for customers, and future-proofs the joint venture's position in the U.K. market by doubling the size of their cargo footprint at the airport.
Virgin and Delta's cargo operations have been aligned under one-roof in the U.K. since June 2016 and share cargo facilities at major U.S. gateways, notably Atlanta, Boston, Miami, New York, Orlando, and Washington Dulles with the objective to create an enhanced customer proposition on both sides of the Atlantic.
The move to the new facility - scheduled for the second half of 2019 - will ultimately increase the size of Virgin and Delta's cargo operation at Heathrow to 335,000 sq ft and see customers benefit from greater automation and faster truck and cargo handling times.
The purpose-built facility will deliver the highest levels of service, security and automation. Inside the warehouse, investments in technology will enable staff using handheld devices to efficiently manage the flow of cargo, while the double-train ETV system will increase storage to 245 positions for pallets and containers. Customer trucks arriving at the facility will benefit from a new door management system, which enables drivers to complete paperwork at the gatehouse on arrival without leaving their vehicles and to then be immediately assigned to one of the facility's 18 cargo doors.
The new location will also provide further benefits for customers choosing Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo services to move temperature-controlled healthcare and life science products as well as offering a dedicated perishables zone and an enlarged AVI centre for live animals.
Tania Boyes, Director - Cargo Operations at Virgin Atlantic, said: "Moving into dnata City East will be a game changer for us and our joint venture with Delta Cargo. It will not only double our capacity at Heathrow and provide space to grow, it reinforces our commitment to be easier to do business with, to use new technologies and automation to simplify and improve our customer experience, and to leverage our partnerships. At a time when Virgin Atlantic is achieving record volumes, this gives us a platform for long-term growth. We also wish to acknowledge dnata's foresight in working with us to make this possible."
Rafael Figueroa, Delta Cargo's Managing Director - Operations and Customer Experience, added: "This state-of-the art facility will put the customer at the forefront with improved facilities and innovative technology solutions, as well as positioning Delta Cargo and Virgin Atlantic Cargo for future growth in this key market."
Gary Morgan, dnata's CEO in the UK, stated: "dnata's relationship with Virgin Atlantic Cargo spans more than 30 years and has, most recently, been enhanced by Virgin's joint venture with Delta Cargo. As a key partner, we are excited to be supporting the growth of both airlines by not only investing in this brand new facility but by also embracing their commitment to using new technologies to achieve service efficiencies and benefits for their customers. dnata City East gives us the opportunity to design a facility which is tailored to Virgin and Delta's long-term ambitions within the expanding Heathrow environment."