GLS Unveils 25-Year JV Partnership Deal with NAS of Kuwait for RIA Cargo Operations

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(L-R) NAS Group CEO, Hassan El-Houry; GLS Executive Director, Peter Malcolm King; Chairman of the Board of the Liberia Airport Authority, Gbehzongar Findley; Liberia Airport Authority General Manager, Wil Bako Freeman; and GLS-NAS Joint Venture General Manager, Axel Coulibaly.

-LAA is convinced of a transformation in cargo operations at RIA

Global Logistics Services (GLS) has announced the selection of National Aviation Services (NAS) of Kuwait as its joint venture (JV) partner to manage the 25-year air cargo operations concession at the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

The joint undertaking deal, which also includes strategic and technical partnership, was disclosed by GLS, the Liberian company that was awarded the cargo operations concession through a concession agreement with the Executive — National Investment Commission (NIC), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and the RIA management — ratified by the Legislature.

The JV was formally disclosed on Saturday, July 22, at a resort in Monrovia.

Joint Venture

According to the joint venture, NAS will contribute international cargo handling expertise while GLS will maintain local logistics and support. The JV will support human and operating capacity development in the aviation service sector to boost Liberia’s air cargo supply chain capabilities.

Under the terms of the agreement, GLS-NAS will design, finance, build, maintain, operate and transfer (DFBMOT) a new, modern cargo facility at the RIA. This new facility will improve RIA’s air cargo operations to meet international standards and support export supply chain capacity in the country.

The new storage facility will cover a ground area of approximately 2,700 square-meters. The improvement of other equipment, including upgrades to current operating systems and capacity as well as certifications and capabilities to handle all forms of cargo under the International Air Transport Association (IATA) scope, will also form part of the agreement.

As a part of the development, the cargo facility will also be expanded to handle more than 8,500 metric tons per year. This is almost triple the current cargo throughput and five times its existing capacity.

Hassan El-Houry, NAS Group chief executive officer, said the new facility developed by the NAS–GLS JV will provide the much needed infrastructure to enhance air cargo supply chain operations, help improve trade barriers, and boost Liberia’s potential as a hub in the Mano River sub-region and the rest of the world.

He indicated that when the facility is completed in 2019, it will also be equipped to handle special cargo such as perishables, pharmaceuticals, minerals, vulnerable goods, dangerous goods and hazardous materials. The facility will also have a dedicated freighter parking to support time efficient operations. At present, the RIA is served by seven airlines, including Air Côte d’Ivoire, Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Royal Air Maroc.

Peter Malcolm King, chief executive officer of GLS, said “The partnership with NAS headlines the GLS’ commitment to delivering world class cargo operations to the RIA and creates the necessary stimulus to improve airfreight supply chain into Liberia.”

He added: “We expect the JV company as concession operators to drive efficiency, eliminate delays and bottlenecks in the clearing process, and have an overall effect in lowering production and transaction costs in Liberia. We are fully committed to ensuring RIA benefits from the unique service offerings that will be introduced.” Mr. King said that GLS-NAS will use the existing facility to transform cargo operations into international standards, where the new facility will be an added advantage.

The general manager of the JV partnership, Axel Coulibaly, said with a vast experience in cargo operations over the years with the NAS and in Ivory Coast, the RIA’s cargo operations would be on par with those of other countries.

LAA

Gbehzongar Findley, chairman of the Board of the Liberia Aviation Authority (LAA), and Wil Bako Freeman, general manager of the LAA, in separate remarks, expressed confidence that cargo operations will reach international standards under the GLS–NAS JV.

Mr. Findley said he is optimistic that Liberia’s revenue will rise and would be a support to the national budget after a year, while Mr. Freeman said he is convinced of a transformation in RIA’s cargo operations.

NAS and El-Houry

NAS is the fastest growing aviation services provider in emerging markets. Established in 2003, NAS quickly transformed from a Kuwait-based ground-handling company into an emerging markets leader in the industry. It is present in over 30 airports across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, handling seven of the top 10 airlines and managing more than 31 airport lounges. With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its worldwide network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

Mr. El-Houry is an expert on the aviation industry. Under his leadership, NAS has received numerous awards, including the prestigious “Best Ground Handling Company in Emerging Markets” award multiple times. El-Houry has spearheaded NAS’ expansion into more than 30 airports, including international airports in India, Afghanistan, the UAE, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Rwanda and Morocco.

NAS is the fastest growing aviation services provider in the Middle East, India, and Africa, providing comprehensive ground-handling solutions, terminal and lounge management, meet-and-assist services, aviation training and security, and travel services to retail customers and to the world’s leading airlines. Mr. El-Houry joined NAS in 2009 after serving as Agility’s manager of corporate development. After Agility’s acquisition of United Projects Company (UPAC) in 2012, he was appointed chairman of UPAC and its subsidiary Royal Aviation, which owns the Sheikh Saad Terminal in Kuwait – both are positions he holds today.

In 2014, Mr. El-Houry was honored by the World Economic Forum in Davos as a Young Global Leader for his contributions to aviation and airport services. Mr. El-Houry holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree from the American University of Beirut.

GLS and Peter Malcolm King

The GLS is a Liberian integrated logistics services company, with over $15 million in turnover, and over 50 employees. GLS recently signed a 25-year concession agreement with the Liberian government to operate and modernize air cargo operations at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), the country’s sole international airport. Mr. King is the chairman of GLS-NAS (the JV company set up to operate the concession).

Mr. King has over 20-years experience in logistics and transportation, energy commodities trading and supply, strategic business consulting, and international business development, consulting for companies such as Novell Europe, Atos Origin, Techmar (Belgium), Tele-Pak (USA) and UBA Liberia.

He worked as the managing director of Linetrale Liberia Ltd and was also the general manager, Business Development and Strategy of Linetrale Petroleum Limited, Lagos, Nigeria. During his five years at Linetrale, Mr. King was responsible for expanding the company’s business operations into three West African countries (Liberia, Ghana & Cote d’Ivoire) and as head of business development was a key member of the commercial desk that grew the company’s financial and operating performance from US$67 million in turnover in 2007 to over US$300 million by 2010.

GLS has grown rapidly since it started operations in 2012 and has over the past five years built a strong brand recognition around efficient service delivery, customer-centrism, solution driven applications, and is regarded as the most innovative operator in the logistics space in the Mano River region. Mr. King has a BSc in Microbiology and an MBA in Oil & Gas Management.

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