In the midst of US shipping snarls, a cargo deluge puts Ohio’s airport to the test.
Officials at Rickenbacker International Airport in the United States determined this spring that they were too strained to accept all new business after months of handling rising demand.
“There are really flights being turned away just to make sure we can take care of the customers we’ve already committed to,” Charles Goodwin, director of airport operations at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, told AFP.
Rickenbacker’s predicament exemplifies why analysts are increasingly concerned that overburdened supply chains could stifle or halt global economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
As retailers and manufacturers scramble to avoid massive port delays, some have turned to Rickenbacker, a cargo-focused airport in Columbus, Ohio, that provides quick access to major highways, allowing truckers to reach nearly half of the United States’ population and a third of Canada’s within a day.
However, Ohio is not immune to supply chain and labor issues, which have created concerns about goods availability for the holiday season.
“It’s not just about volume,” Goodwin said, adding that he thinks the airport’s exceptional customer service will position it for even more development in the post-pandemic future. When it comes to air freight, speed and dependability are paramount.
Other airports have “left freight for weeks,” according to Goodwin. “We’re attempting to avoid becoming that airport.” Rickenbacker was developed as a military base during WWII and given up to local authorities in the 1980s.
The airport now has a limited passenger business conducted by Allegiant Air, although it is among of a select group of US airports that specialize in freight.
Les Wexner, the tycoon behind L Brands, whose labels once included The Limited, Victoria’s Secret, and Abercrombie & Fitch, has long been a hub for fashion in Columbus.
Wexner’s enterprises expanded the Midwest’s distribution routes and were an early source of international cargo shipments to Rickenbacker from Asian production locations.
Computer electronics, manufacturing items, and personal protective equipment are now among the cargo arriving at the airport. Even before the epidemic, the advent of e-commerce accelerated the growth of foreign exports over the last decade.
This has sparked a construction boom within a two-mile radius of the airport, where Amazon, Gap, and Lululemon have massive warehouses and undeveloped land is flying off the shelves.
According to Ned, massive growth in logistics connected to e-commerce has helped Columbus become the Midwest’s fastest-growing city. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.