Atlanta airport looks to South America
Total air cargo activity for June at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport fell 3.24 percent when compared to the same period in 2011. Year-to-date, tonnage was down by 2.97 percent. Taking into account the monthly totals for the first half of the year, cargo growth has hovered between an April low of -5.54 percent and a February high of -2.04 percent when compared to 2011.
According to Airports Council International data released to Air Cargo World, Hartsfield-Jackson finished 2011 at the top of the worldwide list for total movements. Still, the 2011 number finished at a 2.7-percent drop from 2010.
These numbers may seem a little discouraging, but for Warren Jones, the airport’s development manager, the slight drop-off in activity actually means the airport is doing fine in this challenging economy. Other airports, he told Air Cargo World, have seen much worse numbers.
"We’re still on a path for small, but gradual, growth,” he said. “We are looking to add additional cargo capacity here, but we do want to maintain the current cargo carriers we have here because we do want them to grow, and we do want them to maintain their presence here.”
One way he hopes to turn 2012’s tonnage results around is by turning his gaze toward the south. Jones sees Miami as a major player in South American cargo, and he wants to bring a bit of the airport's success to Atlanta.
“We are looking to expand in South American regions,” he told Air Cargo World. “Of course, traditionally, Miami is the gateway to South America. But we feel that can offer more services to our freight forwarders.” Jones added that he is also looking at opportunities in India.
And when more business rolls in, Jones is confident Atlanta will have ample room to handle the increased activity. He's actually in the process of helping put together a cargo masterplan, which will be ready sometime in 2013. The masterplan will highlight Atlanta's benefits, including no curfew restrictions, while highlighting future needs and developing a strategy to take advantage of upcoming opportunities.
"We have enough cargo capacity in our warehouses to grow," he said. "The runways have capacity and we have no restrictions, no curfews."