Chicago O’Hare opens second phase of new cargo facility

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Chicago O’Hare International Airport has opened the second phase of a $220 million northeast cargo development.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), Aeroterm and cargo executives for the opening this week (pictured below).

The new cargo facility opened ahead of schedule in direct response to the strong demand for moving air cargo through Chicago to markets around the world.

O’Hare’s air cargo volumes are already up by 15 per cent in 2017 over last year, putting Chicago on pace to handle 1.8 million tonnes in 2017. This marks another record year for freight at O’Hare.

Mayor Emanuel says: “The City of Chicago is making investments and improvements to ensure O’Hare has not only the best commercial service, but the best cargo space.

“With the next step of this project complete, we are delivering on our promise to grow O’Hare’s capacity and competitiveness, and in turn, its ability in the long-term to provide thousands of new jobs and serve as an economic driver for our city.”

The Northeast Cargo development expands and enhances the efficiency of the airport’s cargo operations and is funded by a $160 million investment by Aeroterm and more than $62 million of airport funds.

The 240,000-square-foot Phase II building is home to Burak, Cargolux and Swissport tenant operators. When complete, it will be the largest airside cargo development built in the last decade at a US international gateway.

Keeping pace with Phases I and II of the northeast cargo development, and to support the record growth of air cargo, Phase III is now expected to open in two to three years, also ahead of schedule.

Aeroterm chief development officer, Erin Gruver says: “There’s no better time to be investing in Chicago’s cargo operations, which is why Aeroterm is proud to partner with the City of Chicago as the developer of this major infrastructure project.

“Not only will these investments our state of the art on-airport cargo warehousing support the rapid growth of cargo operations, but they will in turn improve efficiency of O’Hare’s airfield and facilitate healthy economic growth for years to come.”

Expanding new cargo warehouse capacity provides O’Hare the ability to process a greater volume of air cargo.

The addition of 747-8 capable aircraft ramps provides 50 per cent additional capacity to handle cargo from freighters; and in its final form the northeast cargo development will deliver 800,000 square feet of warehousing and apron pavement.

These investments will make way for up to 15 widebody aircraft to unload at any given time at O’Hare. Each freighter is estimated to deliver cargo valued at $3 million on average, this is expected to drive hundreds of millions in economic benefit for the City and surrounding region.

In addition to the new capacity afforded by the northeast cargo campus, Chicago’s surge in cargo activity is due in large part to its central geography and strong network of transportation infrastructure. Chicago has surpassed its large hub peer airports as the top destination for air trade with China, and trade with Asian countries continues to grow each year as new capacity becomes available at O’Hare.

The northeast cargo development follows on a series of initiatives in the modernisation of O’Hare. Also expected to expand capacity and establish modern facilities for O’Hare’s future is Mayor Emanuel’s O’Hare 21 vision-a multi-billion capital program designed to modernise terminals, expand gates, and improve connectivity at O’Hare.