To increase their cargo presence, officials at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have their sights set on attracting Latin American carriers, perhaps even convincing some to leave their standard hub, Miami International Airport, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Bob Pertierra.
He pointed out recently in comparing the two cities and their prospects for growth, Atlanta has 15 Fortune 500 companies, while Miami has only one.
“When you look at the scale, Miami has more cargo, but Atlanta has more actual business,” he told American Shipper
To increase Atlanta’s share of the cargo activity proportionate to its business, Pertierra’s office is working hand-in-hand with the airport and has been for quite some time. He's been lately assisting with the airport’s new master plan, which is due out later this year.
Generally, he said, cargo in Atlanta has been on an upward trend. He pointed to a 124 percent rise in international cargo since the 1996 Olympic Games in the city, although there has been a “hook” in that trend for the past three years.
Perteirra said he’s been working closely with the airport for the past 10 years, helping to bring new carriers to the area. (The airport now welcomes nine of the world’s top 10 cargo airlines.) This close link between airport officials and representatives from Atlanta’s business culture can only pay dividends in the future.
“Really, it’s about partnering with the business community, the economic development professionals, chambers of commerce, etc., to grow the market,” he said.
“We continue to invest as a state and as a city," he continued, "and then the business community continues, through the chamber and other economic development organizations, to make (air cargo) a strategic industry.”
To siphon off some business from Miami, Pertierra knows the airport’s infrastructure has to be top-notch. This is being addressed with the addition of a new 100,000-square-foot cargo facility at the airport as well as with the new master plan. And if the airport, and Pertierra, can convince some airlines flying cargo into Latin America to move their transit point from Miami to Atlanta, Pertierra knows the shippers will follow, creating a more vibrant cargo industry in Atlanta.
“From where I sit at the chamber of commerce, a representative of the business community, you’ve got to attract the shippers,” he said. “It’s kind of a chicken and the egg (issue). If you don’t have the airport, you can’t get the shippers, but if you don’t have the shippers, you’re not going to get the volume.” - Jon Ross