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Amazon’s Tampa footprint to grow with Atlas acquisition of ex-United space

Today, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority passed a resolution granting Atlas Air approval to lease United Airlines’ former facilities at Tampa International Airport (TPA). The move suggests Amazon is growing its Tampa footprint, which will also support the airport’s already growing cargo volumes. 

The acquisition aligns with Amazon’s need for increased space as both its service providers – Atlas and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) – expand their operations for the e-tail giantUnder its lease of agreement (LOA) with United Airlines, Atlas will lease the 7,680 square feet of operations space in TPA’s cargo building. During the agreement, Atlas will assume the obligation for repayment of United’s company’s improvements rent (CIR) but will not be responsible for its repayment once the agreement terminates on Sept. 30, 2020. 

United initially entered a cargo space rental agreement with TPA in 2010, which the airline subsequently terminated in 2013. Since that time, the agreement between TPA has required the carrier to reimburse it for the CIR until it was paid in full or a replacement tenant was secured. As the new tenant, Atlas now takes on this obligation to repay the CIR until the end of its LOA with United next year. 

Atlas’ acquisition of this new space suggests Amazon is seeking to grow its footprint at TPA, as the facility will likely provide increased capacity for the five 737-800Fs Atlas will place into service for Amazon this year, as reported by our sister site, Cargo Facts. At TPA, Amazon’s other service provider, ATSG’s LGSTX Services group, had previously been awarded a contract to perform gateway services at Amazon’s Tampa gateway, which ATSG  

The move will also offer some balance in Amazon’s development of its other gateways, such as Chicago Rockford (RFD), as it seeks to strengthen its national network. Amazon currently operates 22 gateways, nationwide, most recently opening its gateways at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Hartford (BDL), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), Portland (PDX), Honolulu (HNL), Riverside (RIV) and soon, Wilmington (ILN), as reported by our sister site, Air Cargo World 

For TPA, the development should bolster the airport’s already impressive growth.  

In 2018, TPA handled over 200,000 tonnes of cargo, a 35.77% increase over the year prior. This total comprised of around 189,601 tonnes of freight and 13,000 tonnes of mail, which increased by 33.6% and 74.9%, respectively. Rising inbound and outbound cargo volumes contributed to this growth. This growth at TPA has continued into 2019, with volumes at the airport increasing by 14.3% year-to-date through February to 34,654 tonnes of cargo. 

TPA’s scale for cargo operations is currently a fraction of its neighboring Miami International Airport (MIA) – which handled almost 2.35 million tonnes of cargo last year. Still, increased attention from Amazon and DHL, which doubled its storage capacity at TPA last year, suggests the airport will be one to watch. 

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.