Amazon remains committed to Wilmington Air Park hub, study says

With CVG, Wilmington is an Amazon Air ‘nerve center’

Wilmington Air Park, with Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, are “increasingly the nerve center of Amazon Air’s domestic operation,” a new university study proclaims.

Flights from the airport near Hebron, Ky. airport grew markedly since March 2022, expanding from 26 to 44 daily, said the report released Tuesday from DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

“Amazon remains committed to Wilmington Air Park (known by its three-letter ILN designation), which is just 60 miles by highway from CVG (Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport),” the report’s authors said.

ExploreWilmington Air Park becomes an Amazon Air ‘linchpin’

“Flight activity there has held steady over the past year, although it has fallen modestly from 24.2 to 20.4 daily since March,” the report added, referring to Amazon’s operation in Wilmington. “This airport pair — and CVG in particular — are increasingly the nerve center of Amazon Air’s domestic operation.”

That modest drop in Wilmington may be only temporary, said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor in DePaul’s School of Public Service and one of the report’s authors.

“We expect Wilmington Air Park to remain, along with CVG, part of a dual hub system in the Cincinnati-Dayton area,” Schwieterman told this news outlet. “Wilmington continues to have a very expansive set of overnight flights, making it an important part of Amazon’s system providing next day delivery. It remains one of Amazon Air’s largest hubs.”

“ATSG’s presence at Wilmington Air Park at large Amazon facilities nearby also makes it an important logistics center for Amazon,” he added, referring to an air cargo carrier based at Wilmington.

The percentage of its flights serving U.S. destinations accounted for by CVG and ILN grew from some 14% to 21% in the six months leading up to September 2022, the report said.

Amazon’s operation in Wilmington —which opened in spring 2019, following a pilot project — is where the spokes of a massive cargo-sorting hub meet, with 1,100 employees (as of last July) working across 1.1 million square feet of space — 550,000 square feet on each of two levels.

Amazon was pleased with the outcome of the pilot project in Wilmington, even though the company decided in 2017 to build its main, $1.5 billion hub at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport.

“The expansion in the Ohio Valley supports next-day fulfillment of products that can’t be easily stocked at all regional warehouses and paves the way for expanded third-party delivery, a sector dominated by FedEx and UPS,” the DePaul report said.

Wilmington departures are more tightly concentrated in the early morning hours than CVG, with most occurring between midnight and 1:45 a.m., the report states.

CVG and ILN appear to have an average of around 84 takeoffs and landings daily, and close to 100 on the busiest days, it said.

Amazon has helped transform the Wilmington Air Park. Cargo traffic at Wilmington grew 289% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a February 2021 analysis by DePaul University. Amazon is the reason why.

Questions were sent to Amazon representatives about the report Tuesday.

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