One South Carolina airport is seeing a booming business in cargo after high-tech businesses have streamlined their supply chains.
Cargo tonnage flown out of Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is has doubled since 2016, and logistics firm Senator International has no more room in their 20,000-square foot (1,858-square meter) warehouse so the airport is clearing land for a building five times as big to open next spring, airport President Dave Edwards said.
“This isn’t, ‘Build it and they will come.’ We need it right now,” Edwards told The Greenville News.
Along with the $13 million new warehouse, a $17 million concrete pad is being built to help the airport handle more cargo planes, Edwards said.
Companies such as MRI machine maker Siemens or automaker BMW need supplies for their goods quickly and the most cost-effective way is sometimes to fly them in.
There is plenty potential for more growth too because the warehouse now has just a day shift and a flight crew, said Sean Hildebrand, an operations manager at Senator International.
“We started with two flights a week back in 2016,” Hildebrand said. “Now it’s four to five a week. The warehouse aspect is going to push us into a multi-shift operation. Once we do that, it will basically be 24-7.”
Right now, Senator International sends a 747 jet to Germany four or five times a week, Hildebrand said. “We pretty much fill that up in every flight,” he said, adding that 80 to 90 percent of cargo belongs to BMW.
The cargo boom has also opened the door for more interesting shipments. Many of the 550 horses competing in this fall’s World Equestrian Games in Mill Spring, North Carolina, will arrive at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.
Edwards said the airport is watching President Donald Trump’s trade policies carefully, but it is too early to determine what impact they might have on the air cargo business.
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