What many commuters traveling through Dulles Airport may not know is that this airport handles a significant amount of commercial freight and is primed to handle additional air cargo capacity. From refrigerated food to flowers to pharmaceuticals and heavy equipment, Dulles Airport offers a number of competitive advantages for advanced manufacturers, freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers.
Officials from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), Loudoun County, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) recently hosted a group of site selection consultants to expound upon these strategic advantages – location, low operating costs and existing infrastructure.
Located at the center of the East Coast air cargo market, the Dulles Catchment Area covers 25 states and part of Canada with overnight service. Dulles has a dedicated access road providing a fast connection to I-95, and its close proximity to I-81 and I-70 provide an extensive ground transportation network to Eastern, Midwestern and Canadian markets. Due to the nature of goods being transported, timing is critical and gains in efficiencies not only deliver a better product to the end user, but save the shipper from incurring spoilage costs.
Of equal importance to its import capabilities, Dulles is also able to attract a strong market for export, which is crucial to establish cargo for the backhaul. “If exports and imports match up, it’s a huge enhancement and adds to the price-point value. Air freight carriers and manufacturers ideally want the planes to be fully loaded both coming and going,” said Warren Hammer, VEDP Business Development Manager – Logistics.
Dulles Airport can also be highly competitive from a cost standpoint. It is an industry standard to charge landing fees; however, Dulles bases its fees on the Maximum Landing Weight while many of its competitors base their fees on the Maximum Take-Off Weight. As an airplane weighs considerably less at landing, due to fuel consumption, these cost savings can add up over time. Dulles also competes favorably on other costs such as lower cargo handling and fuel fees, as well as fewer weather-related delays compared to its Northern counterparts, leading to an overall lower operational cost structure for carriers and manufacturers.
In 2010 Dulles handled almost 323,000 metric tons of freight, with more than 195,000 metric tons traveling internationally. Its 442 weekly international departures to 48 destinations around the world illustrate how Dulles has already developed a substantial infrastructure. “There’s already a critical mass for the global air cargo market, but what’s most exciting is there’s capacity to grow,” said Brent Sheffler, VEDP Managing Director - Advanced Manufacturing. Added Sheffler, “Dulles has 515,000 square feet of cargo warehouse space, nearly one million square feet of cargo ramp and hundreds of acres surrounding the airport to support highly-secured air cargo and climate-controlled distribution facilities.”
The air cargo capabilities of Dulles International Airport add to the compelling story of why Virginia is CNBC’s Top State for Business. To learn why Virginia’s is a leading gateway to the world click here.