SriLankan Airlines has become the first new customer at Worldwide Flight Services’ (WFS) CenterPoint cargo handling terminal at London Heathrow.
The airline has awarded WFS with a 32-month contract, commencing in September, to provide cargo handling and airside transport for its Airbus A330-300 flights connecting London and Colombo. SriLankan currently operates a weekly flight on the route but is expected to increase frequencies as the airline industry recovers from the disruption to schedules caused by Covid. Prior to the pandemic, SriLankan Airlines carried some 9,500 tonnes of cargo annually between the two countries.
Paul Carmody, WFS’ Managing Director – UK Cargo, commented: “This is a very important new contract for our UK operation and justifies WFS’ decision to invest further in our Heathrow operation with the opening of CenterPoint. The facility has been extensively refurbished to meet our requirements and will ensure our team at Heathrow can provide the first-class standards of service SriLankan Airlines demands for its customers.”
WFS now operates over 350,000 sq. ft. of cargo facilities at Heathrow, handling hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cargo per annum. In the last 12 months, the UK operation has also been successful in winning a new contract with Gulf Air and extending its existing cargo handling agreement with Vietnam Airlines.
Chamara Ranasinghe, Head of Cargo at SriLankan Airlines, stated: “As London Heathrow represents a key cargo hub and gateway for the SriLankan Airlines’ cargo network, we are encouraged of the future successes and benefits for SriLankan Cargo customers through the partnership with WFS for managing cargo handling operations, primarily in the handling of the varied commodities uplifted on the route. Such strong partnerships add value and consistency to customers during these tumultuous times and this is an ideal venture supporting the intended expansion of SriLankan Airlines’ operations into London Heathrow in the near future.”
The new CenterPoint facility, which opened this summer, enables WFS to provide an off-airport cargo handling operation at Heathrow to complement its longstanding presence in Heathrow’s World Cargocentre. The building also provides the capacity needed to grow WFS’ Heathrow client portfolio, which currently consists of 14 international airlines.
The building incorporates a mezzanine floor suitable for handling e-commerce, mail, and courier shipments in addition to 30,000 sq ft of ground floor space.
“While our cargo volumes have been resilient, the expected resumption of more passenger services ex Heathrow in the coming weeks and months is very welcome news. The addition of CenterPoint, alongside our on-airport cargo terminals at Heathrow, means WFS is especially well-placed to support our current and new airline clients as their cargo volumes grow back to 2019 levels. With our ability to support the handling of special products, including pharmaceuticals and e-commerce shipments, we are ready for any new strategic opportunities this brings to our UK business,” Paul Carmody added.