Amazon Air and DHL Express drive infrastructure development at CVG

Amazon Air’s fleet of 767s parked at CVG.

Last week, Air Cargo World visited Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) to check out the changes underway at the fastest growing cargo hub in the United States, which, happens to be home to Amazon Air and DHL Express. Although DHL Express and Amazon Air operate as close partners today, largescale infrastructure investments allude to greater autonomy moving forward.

“They have this great relationship happening right now, but I’m sure both plan for growth,” said Mindy Kershner, senior manager of communications and community affairs at CVG told Air Cargo World, adding that DHL may need use of some of their facilities back. DHL continues to invest in expansions, recently completing the construction of a new ramp for additional parking, which both companies as they continue to bolster their presence at the airport.

“Amazon is working out plans to build something… perhaps similar,” she continued. “I know there will be a sortation building, more ramp space for aircraft parking, vehicle parking lots as well as local roadway improvements.”

In January, Amazon Air confirmed plans of the acquisition of an additional 210 acres of land at CVG on Twitter. Today, the cooperation between DHL and Amazon Air makes for efficient use of airport facilities. “It’s almost a 24/7 operation right now, because DHL has this built-up [infrastructure] here,” Kershner said, referring to the companies’ collaboration at the hub. “That was, I think, attractive to Amazon.”

A typical night consists of DHL’s planes arriving at CVG between midnight – 1 a.m., where hundreds of thousands of packages are unloaded, sorted and reloaded to take off between 5-6 a.m. At around 8 a.m., Amazon Air’s flights land at the airport, and cargo onboard is unloaded, sorted, repackaged and put back on planes which take off around 1-2 p.m.

Click to enlarge CVG’s traffic numbers over the last two years

The hub has seen major infrastructural changes since cargo carrier DHL Express commenced operations at the hub in 2009, where the company has built what it calls its “super hub” of North America. In 2017, newly-created Amazon Air joined DHL at CVG, commencing operations that May, which shot up the airport’s monthly cargo traffic up (see graph.)

“It’s really neat to see it now and then know in the future what’s to come, and we can’t even predict it all now,” said Kershner. “You can see this global cargo logistics network being built right here.”

Amazon and DHL are not the only companies growing at CVG. Last Monday, the aircraft maintenance company FEAM Aero celebrated the ground-breaking of a $19 million hangar – an investment to service 747s at the emerging cargo hub – one of many projects unfolding at the airport that serves to underpin its capacity for air cargo.

Beyond continued additions to aircraft parking, a new sorting facility is currently underway, which Air Cargo World guesses would be utilized by both companies, considering their relationship at the hub – the details of which have not been made completely transparent by either company.

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