Airfreight operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have grown tremendously in the past year, with the number of weekly cargo flights surging 40 percent since 2010. Atlanta airport’s Al Snedeker sat down with Air Cargo World to discuss the factors contributing to this growth and how Hartsfield-Jackson plans to evolve in the future.
Since the beginning of 2011, Hartsfield-Jackson freight carriers have added 24 flights per month, an airport spokesman revealed. To Snedeker, this growth is testament to a variety of factors — namely, the airport’s promotion of cargo operations.
“Hartsfield-Jackson has one of the lowest landing fees among major U.S. airports,” he said. “There are no curfew restrictions, so carriers can operate here 24 hours a day.” The fact that Atlanta has a strong freight-forwarder community also helps, Snedeker pointed out.
Hartsfield-Jackson’s general manager Louis Miller concurred. Attributing Atlanta airport’s success to its favorable location, Miller said that Hartsfield-Jackson is only a day’s worth of trucking away from 80 percent of U.S. businesses. “This is a tremendous advantage for businesses looking to distribute products quickly, efficiently and inexpensively,” he said in a statement.
Some of the carriers looking to benefit from this proximity include Asiana Airlines and China Cargo Airlines. Asiana Airlines, for instance, recently upped its number of weekly cargo flights between Atlanta and Seoul from four to seven. China Cargo Airlines increased its frequency at a similar rate, transitioning from three weekly flights to six.
Singapore Airlines and Cargolux also boosted their frequency to Atlanta this year, now offering four and five freight flights per week, respectively. It’s increases such as these that Snedeker cites as key to Hartsfield-Jackson’s cargo growth.
Not that Hartsfield-Jackson isn’t eying expansion, however. “We are always working to increase capacity around the world,” Snedeker told Air Cargo World. “However, in particular, we would like to develop capacity to the Middle East and Africa.”
Hartsfield-Jackson is also preparing for one of its biggest operations yet: housing Boeing’s 747-8 freighters. Fortunately, Snedeker said, all the upgrades necessary for accommodating this wide-body airliner are already complete. Now, the waiting game begins, with Hartsfield-Jackson anticipating welcoming the first 747-8 within the next six months.
The airport also recently renovated its cargo facilities, Snedeker revealed, shelling out $3 million to upgrade its north and south freight areas. “These included upgraded HVAC and plumbing systems, as well as improvements to parking areas and office spaces,” he told Air Cargo World.
It looks like carriers are taking notice of such improvements: Hartsfield-Jackson moved 328,930 tonnes of freight in the first six months of 2011, a 2 percent year-over-year surge both internationally and domestically.