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Sharjah International Airport in the UAE finds less hassle means more growth for cargo traffic

As world airports go, Sharjah International in the United Arab Emirates definitely is not a major contender for passenger airport of the year. For 1998 it ranked No. 313 in passenger traffic. It ranked even lower in aircraft operations, at No. 349.

But in cargo it shines. Last year Sharjah moved 534,849 tonnes, placing it No. 29 in the world. It is now the top cargo airport in the Middle East, the first Middle Eastern airport to move hail a million tonnes in a year and the first to reach the world cargo airport Top 30. For the first time it drew ahead of Dubai. which ranks No. 35 and is Sharjah's primary competitor among Middle East cargo airports. Sharjah also ranks No. 2 in the world for air/sea cargo, behind only Sea-Tac in the US.

This position as a major cargo hub was reached over the past decade by a simple philosophy of laissez faire, with the airport essentially telling anyone who wanted to operate cargo aircraft into Sharjah that "there's the cargo apron, there's the warehouse, turn out the lights when you're through."

Sharjah has "very little bureaucracy; we've cut out all excess paperwork." says Jamal Akram, director-marketing and research. It also doesn't hurt that the airport offers the cheapest handling charges in the Middle East and operates on a 24-hr. basis.

The facility has an "open-skies, open-ground policy," says Dr. Ghanem Al Hajri, director general. "We have an accommodating approach to dealing with our customers and we do not restrict airlines and agents: we work with them to ensure the best possible operational environment. …

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