Amazon Spreads its Wings in Kentucky

The internet retail giant announced that they will build their global hub for air services at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, investing nearly $1.5 billion in the local infrastructure. Kentucky State applauded the project, granting $40 million in tax incentives.

Cincinnati will become the home of  Amazon’s freighter fleet - courtesy Amazon
Cincinnati will become the home of Amazon’s freighter fleet - courtesy Amazon

The Amazon plans, dubbed ‘Project Arrow’ and now unveiled by Kentucky’s Republican Governor Matt Bevin, were a matter of top secrecy that only a handful of local decision makers were familiar with. At the end of last year a search firm contacted Kentucky’s Economic Development Financial Authority and the airport management presenting a concept of an unnamed client to invest a large sum of money in CVG for building an air hub there.

Cincinnati will become a big address as freight hub
The search firm’s client was Amazon, as now known, enthusiastically cheered by local politicians, airport managers and Boon County officials after the cards were laid on the table. The Amazon plans involve 

  • Renting 900 acres for a period of 50-plus years
  • Constructing a 3 million square foot handling and sorting facility
  • Building a 350,000 square foot loading wing
  • Setting up a number of smaller accessory buildings
  • Providing parking positions for over 100 freighters

Meanwhile, the airport’s management gave green light to the plans and announced investing $5 million out of CVG’s own cash for enhancing the ground infrastructure.
According to Amazon, 40 Boeing 767 freighters will be stationed in CVG, leading to 2,700 new jobs. Launch of the first cargo flight will be in April. Once the project is in full swing, the retail giant expects up to 200 daily freighter operations at CVG, making Cincinnati a leading cargo hub next to Memphis and Louisville, the homes of FedEx and UPS. Until their own resources are operational, Amazon will utilize some of DHL’s sorting facilities at CVG.

Wilmington is left out in the cold
Amazon’s decision to concentrate all future air activities in Northern Kentucky’s CVG is a blow to Wilmington Air Park, Ohio, where cargo flights had been secretly conducted in partnership with Air Transport Service Group (ATSG) since mid-2015.
Accordingly, Republican partisan Cliff Rosenberger, representing Wilmington in Ohio’s General Assembly commented the decision with bitterness: “To say I am disappointed by the news from Amazon is an understatement. I have always been confident that the state of Ohio have done everything in their power to make Wilmington an attractive and hospitable place for not only Amazon, but other companies as well.”

Matt Bevin
Matt Bevin

Kentucky will reap the fruits, states Gov. Bevin
This sharply contrasts the current sentiments in the greater Cincinnati region, as expressed by Kentucky’s Matt Bevin: 
“Amazon’s Prime Air hub promises to revolutionize the fulfillment industry worldwide, and Kentucky is excited to partner with them as they embark on this disruptive, transformative and exciting venture,” said the Governor. “Kentucky’s ideal location, proven workforce and an already extensive shipping and logistics industry have been the backbone of our relationship with Amazon for nearly 20 years. This new project will pay dividends to both the company and our state, and we are truly grateful for the jobs and economic impact it will bring to the commonwealth.”

Heiner Siegmund

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