New airport cluster emerges in Inland Empire

In the coming year, industry experts should keep their eye on southern California’s emerging airport cluster in the Inland Empire, as integrators increase their presence in the region. The So Cal cluster formerly comprised of Los Angeles (LAX), Ontario International (ONT) and San Diego International (SAN) airports. Now, San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) and March Air Reserve Base (RIV) in Riverside, with their increased air cargo activity and access to multi-modal transport, can be considered a part of this cluster, as well.

LAX, ONT, SAN and SBD collectively handled 2,291,129 tonnes of cargo in 2017, which will likely increase as integrators, and carriers operating on behalf of e-commerce companies, continue to develop their operations in the region and Amazon moves into its new air gateway at RIV.

Earlier this year, UPS and FedEx both signed leases with SBD for 60,000 square feet of warehouse space, to 2020 and 2028, respectively. UPS will operate 4 flights year-round, but is currently operating up to 9 flights daily for peak season. FedEx operates two flights a day, bringing SBD to 11 flights daily this peak season. Both integrators are upgrading their facilities at the airport to include automation for package sorting. Antonov and Volga-Dneper have also made several AN-124 flights into the airport over the course of the year. The airport currently has one runway, with room to grow.

Ontario serves as a regional hub for UPS, but also hosts other integrators. FedEx recently renewed its 30-year lease at the airport with two 10-year options, and plans to relocate its operations to a 51 acre site in ONT’s northwest quadrant for an ultimate buildout of 110 acres at the airport.

Chinese integrator SF Express does not currently fly into the airport, but chief executive officer at ONT, Mark Thorpe, told Air Cargo World that the airport is currently pursuing opportunities with the company and that “it would be a natural choice, given their agreement with UPS.” Amazon Air too, operates at the airport, with 11 flights a day year-round and 14 flights in peak periods.

These airports, along with Amazon Air’s new air gateway at March Air Reserve Base, will be the ones to watch in the coming year.

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