With strong national e-commerce sales due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Wilmington Air Park continues its renaissance.
The Clinton County airport, located an hour southeast of Dayton, was ranked the highest volume airport in Ohio for cargo shipped for it calendar year ending in July, making it the 33rd busiest airport nationally based on pounds of freight transiting the airport.
The Wilmington Air Park ranks 33rd nationally out of 780 airports, processing 346 million pounds of freight through the airport in the past year, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation statistics.
This is the second time in the past decade that the airport has achieved this ranking in Ohio. From August 2016 through September 2017, the Wilmington Air Park also outpaced other Ohio airports in the volume of cargo shipped through the airport, air park managers say.
“This ranking speaks volumes about the team that keeps this airport running today, and for the past several years,” Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Daniel Evers said.
The Port Authority owns and operates the air park. It contracts with LGSTX Services Inc. to manage operations there.
In the early 1980s, the air park was home to Airborne Express that grew to be the third largest overnight delivery company in the nation.
In 2008, DHL closed its U.S. air hub in Wilmington, a move that impacted nearly 9.500 jobs across the region. In 2017, Amazon chose CVG — Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport — in Kentucky to be its Prime Air hub.
The air park pressed on, however. By the end of 2019, more than 10 companies were operating there, including Amazon, all employing more than 2,000 workers. The park had 2.7 million-square feet on 1,900 acres nearly all leased.
Today, the numbers are even stronger. There are 14 distinct employers with nearly 4,000 employees in total at the airport, approximately doubling the employee count in some 14 months, Evers said in an interview with the Dayton Daily News Tuesday.
The ATSG (Air Transport Services Group) group of companies is collectively the park’s largest employer. Amazon has about 1,000 employees there, he said.
ATSG companies include CAM (Cargo Aircraft Management), Airborne Global Solutions, ABX Air, Air Transport International, Omni Air International, Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services, PEMCO Conversions and LGSTX Services Inc., which provides freight and ground support services.
Evers offered dual reasons for the attraction companies have to the air park as a place to anchor operations.
“We think by and large it’s two things —geography and workforce," he said. “We’re an hour from Cincinnati, an hour from Columbus and 45 minutes from Dayton. You can get just about anywhere from here, with a lot less congestion.”
“There are just good quality people in this region,” he added. “Turnover is low for most of our tenants.”
The park does not have scheduled passenger traffic; it’s basically a cargo and maintenance airport. “We’re a low cost provider of aviation services,” Evers said.
And word is getting around. The park is getting a growing number of inquiries from companies asking about space or build-to-suit possibilities.
“We’re getting inquiries (about space) from beyond, not just local, not just regional, but national, from a number of different platforms,” Evers said.
The Port Authority has owned the Wilmington Air Park for just over 10 years. More than $5 million has been invested in aviation infrastructure at the park over the past five years, including grant funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation Office of Aviation, a capital grant from the state of Ohio and general fund dollars from the Clinton County Port Authority.
“The dedication of the LGSTX team, together with the depth of their knowledge of the airport, has allowed the Port Authority to invest and leverage our available funds strategically to create an environment that will enable continued growth of aircraft operations at the airport,” Evers said in the air park’s release. “We continue to attract the attention of cargo operators, due to the location of the air park, flexibility in our ability to accommodate users' needs, and the efficiencies of operating at cargo-only airport.”
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