Dubai-based Dnata, the airlines services arm of Emirates airlines, has made an investment of more than $17 million in Erbil, Iraq, as part of strengthening its operations in the country.

It has invested $3.5 million in setting up a new state-of-the-art refrigerated freight chain and bus maintenance facility for its modern fleets at Erbil International Airport.

It also announced an investment of $14 million to add a 16,000 square meter cargo warehouse to its infrastructure in Iraq. The three new Dnata facilities will create nearly 100 local jobs, Dubai Media Office said in a statement.

Dnata provides ground handling, freight, catering and retail services at more than 120 airports in 19 countries.

“Our investment in three new facilities will help us expand and develop our operations in Erbil as the demand for reliable and safe freight services grows across the region," Dnata Erbil CEO Tom-Alwin Jones, said.

Dnata's new facility allows the cold chain to handle 10,000 tons of perishable materials annually.

The Dnata bus maintenance facility is designed to maintain a fleet of eight passenger buses and more than 10 buses operating at Erbil International Airport, the statement said.

In January, Dnata announced that it will invest €200 million ($223m) in a fully automated cargo centre at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) demand for air cargo has been increasing despite a challenging operating backdrop. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers, was up 2.9% compared to February 2021, IATA said.

(Writing by Seban Scaria; editing by Daniel Luiz)