Philadelphia International Airport has one clear goal: to become THE US East Coast airport of choice for logistics. With its ideal geographical location 10 minutes away from the I95 corridor from Canada to Florida, the airport has been limited up until now in its growth due to facility restrictions.
Jim Tyrrell, Chief Revenue Officer at PHL, also admits that the focus on cargo had not been there previously. Hence, 70% of business in its catchment area (which includes a booming life sciences
industry) currently bypasses the airport, and is trucked to New York to be onforwarded internationally from there. That is now going to change in a region that generates 53 billion USD in air
cargo business each year. Over the past 4 years, the City of Philadelphia (PHL) and Aviation Facilities Company (ACFO) have developed a competitive redevelopment plan, with clear short, mid, and
long-term milestones, and have now brought strong partners on board to enhance the airport’s facilities, expand, and modernize existing capacities, and bring the airport into the 21st century.
“There has been much expressed cargo interest,” Jim Tyrrell, PHL CRO, reveals, “especially in e-commerce since the pandemic, but also pharmaceuticals, and generally.” The lack
of facilities has hampered growth up to now.
At the recent ACHL, PHL and AFCO announced that Menzies Aviation had been chosen as the airport’s new cargo ground handler, and that Kale Logistics Solutions will provide the technological solutions to create the airport’s cargo community system.
Jim Tyrrell, PHL CRO, stated: “Our partnership with AFCO, Menzies, and Kale, is a critical step in the evolution of Philadelphia Airport’s cargo program. We intend to become THE airport of choice for logistics on the East Coast, and have short, mid, and long-term cargo development goals regarding infrastructure and community development to take PHL to the next level in logistics. PHL is perfectly located in the middle between Washington and New York, but without the congestion that these airports suffer.”
Wide, wider, widest
Eli Gregory, Head of Airport Investment and Development at Aviation Facilities Company Management, LLC (AFCO), detailed: “We have spent the last 16-18 months redeveloping the cargo infrastructure and facilities at PHL, so that the airport can take full advantage of its location. We are currently repurposing an existing temporary structure with 4 wide-body parking positions in front, and will be finishing a new 150,000 ft² [45,720m²] facility next month, with 6 widebody parking positions.” In the long term, the airport will develop a 135-acre space acquired in 2017, and eventually count 24 widebody parking positions. The warehouse facilities will be in a position to handle all kinds of commodities, including life sciences. Its longest runway was also extended by 1250 ft.
Cargo handling is built on trust
“We are delighted to be working with PHL Airport, AFCO, and Kale on this new development for cargo,” Robert Fordree, Executive Vice President Global Cargo Services and Menzies Aviation, declared. Addressing Jim Tyrrell’s desire for “next level service” and “greater global reach and abilities”, Fordree responded: “This is what we are striving to do. The airport is not a traditional cargo one, but is evolving into one with a trusted developer and technology provider who understand the market, and who we know and trust. If we are operating in a new cargo terminal, we want to attract new operators in cooperation with the airport. We also want to leverage the global airline contracts that we have, and offer proper, viable handling solutions.”
See what you’re doing
Jim Tyrell puts the emphasis on intelligent technology as a crucial step to more modern cargo handling: “We chose to partner with Kale Logistics to evolve the transparency and efficiencies that we are looking to achieve.” Amar More, Co-Founder and CEO of Kale Logistics Solutions, offered experiences from other airports that have adopted state-of-the-art cargo community systems: “Cargo Community Systems (CCS) attract more cargo. Simply through a better understanding of imports and exporters, those within the CCS can identify their top customers and define new products accordingly.” He also underlined the other important benefits technology brings such as a reduction in paperwork, truck waiting times, and pollution. “Kale feels privileged to support PHL in its cargo transformation strategy,” he concluded.
Ready to fly
With that, PHL looks poised to start taking back the 70% of cargo that currently passes by on the interstate just outside the airport fence, and become a key cargo operator. Having handled 650,000 tons in 2019, and similar figures expected again this year, it will be interesting to see how soon that tonnage expands.
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