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Reno reaps cargo growth

By John W. McCurry on December 11, 2013

While the fact that Reno, Nev., is farther west than Los Angeles is probably mostly known by serious geography fans, it takes on added meaning when it comes to air cargo. Reno-Tahoe International Airport officials are hoping the airport’s location will keep cargo tonnage on an upward trend.

The Reno region is promoting itself as a prime location to serve Northern California and other Western states. Its location west of Los Angeles and north of San Francisco gives it an advantage over those cities in terms of cargo coming to the region from Asia, says the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s CEO.

“We just adopted a strategic plan, and one of its five priorities is maintaining and growing our cargo service,” says Marily Mora, who began work in Reno on July 1 after serving as assistant director of aviation at Oakland International Airport in California. She was at one time COO at the Reno Airport.

Reno has dedicated cargo service through FedEx, UPS and Ameriflight, which operates for DHL. It is not among the major cargo airports of North America by a long shot with just 52,517 tonnes moved in 2012, but it has recorded cargo growth for the past four years. In October, cargo was up 12 percent year over year and was up 5 percent for the first 10 months of the year.

“Cargo is flat in other places, so being five points up, we are ahead of the national average,” Mora says. “We have a competitive advantage because of our tax climate compared to California.”

Mora hopes to attract another dedicated cargo carrier to Reno in 2014. The airport is prepared for future growth with space set aside for cargo facility expansion, she says.

The Reno area has attracted a large number of regional distribution centers over the last several years, which is helping drive the airport’s cargo growth. These include pharmaceutical companies Merck and Sanofi-Aventis. Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters also have major distribution facilities.