Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chicago Mayor And City Council Pushing O’Hare Air Freight Terminal Expansion

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced May 14 that the City Council Aviation Committee will take up approval of a major air freight terminal expansion at O’Hare on its June agenda. The city’s aviation department has selected Aeroterm, a private developer of ten million square feet of airport freight facilities at 120 different locations, to build the new 840,000 square foot aircraft ramp served freight terminal on former Air National Guard property on the O’Hare grounds. The proposed new facility will just about double O’Hare’s air freight capacity, will carry the first LEED certification for privately developed air freight terminals, and will be capable of handling the new generation Boeing 747-800 aircraft.

Aeroterm is investing $125 million of its own capital into the project, with the City of Chicago providing an additional $62 million from airport fee revenue to the construction cost, plus the land acquired by the City from the Defense Department in 1996. The project is expected to directly create 1,200 construction jobs and another 1,200 permanent jobs at the new fright facility. The first phase of the new terminal is expected to open next year, with completion of the entire 840,000 square feet within the next ten years. Economic activity generated as a result of this expanded capacity is predicted to create another 10,000 indirect jobs in the Chicago area economy.

Aeroterm already operates about one million square feet of freight terminal capacity on the O’Hare airport property. O’Hare handles 1.5 million tons of air freight annually, or about 10% of all US air cargo. Chicago three area airports generate $45 billion in annual economic activity, and produce 540,000 jobs in the metropolitan area. Chicago Aviation Commissioner Richard Rodriguez points out the importance of air freight in the announcement of City Council action on the O’Hare air cargo expansion: “Air cargo is of prime importance to the economic vitality of our city, region and state. This development will approximately double O’Hare’s cargo capacity and strengthen our leading role as a national and international air freight hub.” O’Hare’s position as part of the Port of Chicago’s foreign trade zone will enhance Chicago’s position in the overseas import and export markets, particularly for consumer electronics, and perishable goods like produce and flowers imported from overseas. Aeroterm President and CEO John Cammett responded to Mayor Emmanuel’s announcement, “We are honored to be selected and entrusted by the City as the developer of this high profile project and look forward to growing our established and highly regarded relationship with the City and the O’Hare air cargo community. We recognize and value the importance of this project and underscore the City’s priority of expanding O’Hare’s cargo infrastructure and improving its efficiency.

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