Currently, more than 65% of all inbound perishable air cargo to the US and, as mentioned above, more than 85% of inbound perishable air cargo from Latin America lands in South Florida. South Florida is a critically important region for air cargo because of its proximity to Latin American air cargo hubs. South Florida is the closest US air cargo accommodating region to the major Latin American air cargo hubs, including Bogota, Lima, Santiago, Sao Paolo, and Quito.
Air transportation is the most expensive way to ship even low-weight, high-value commodities. However, perishable commodities from Latin America are shipped to the US via air because alternative modes of shipping, such as trucks and marine transportation, are too slow based on the distance. By contrast, perishable commodities produced in Mexico are shipped by truck across the US and not by air, because of the shorter distance to market. Based on the cost and weight of fuel, the most efficient location for a cargo airport is as close to the departure point as possible that is accessible to truck transportation to all the potential markets. For perishable commodities from South America, this makes Airglades’ South Florida location ideal.
Once perishable goods reach the US, truck transportation to the final destination is far more cost efficient than air travel. A 2016 study submitted by Airglades to the FAA identified double digit percentage transportation cost savings by flying goods from Quito, Ecuador to MIA and then using five trucks to ship the goods from MIA to LAX compared with flying the goods directly from Quito to LAX. The savings are driven primarily by three factors: a) Trucks cost less per hour traveled than aircraft in the US; b) Relatively strong US interstate infrastructure; and c) Flight distance/time “tipping thresholds” – Aircraft that travel above certain distances/times require reductions in the volume of cargo they carry to accommodate aircraft fuel requirements.
Other southern airports in Atlanta and Alabama are subject to the same cost disadvantage over Airglades based on their distance from Latin America. Furthermore, their location requires a major overhaul of the trucking network and does not benefit from a close location to the closely-knit perishables-community network that exists in South Florida. Airglades is situated along the pre-existing major trucking routes that run from South Florida to the rest of the US and back, requiring no disruptions to the existing trucking network and routes. Airglades also has substantial land for development space, both on-airport and off-airport. Existing airports cannot offer this kind of space to accommodate the development that will follow from the logistics chain.