Monday, August 5, 2013

Airport Tries Attracting Freight and Logistics Customers and Incentivising Cargo Charters

Space to Expand Means it's Special Offer Time for Prospective Customers
Shipping News Feature

US – How to drum up more business? The eternal question for all companies whether in the logistics industry or any other, but a question especially relevant when economic times are hard. Advertising (even with the low rates charged by the Handy Shipping Guide) is one avenue but for Lambert St Louis International Airport (STL) the decision to position itself as the ideal cargo charter airport for the US Midwest firstly meant offering a range of incentives to attract more freight and now the airport has a new drive for cargo charter traffic under way.

The airport already provides new freighter operators with an 18 month waiver of landing fees and terminal rentals, based on a 2 year service agreement, whilst the State of Missouri also provides incentives to attract trade. Now STL is making itself more ‘charter-friendly’ by increasing the amount of charter-related information on its website. The website and supporting video also now feature details of local ancillary service providers such as cargo handlers, freight forwarders, customs brokers and specialist equipment operators. The aim is to simplify the flight planning process for charter brokers and operators.

STL strategy is actively to encourage all forms of cargo and logistics activity on and around the airport; this is fully supported by local government as a vitally-important driver of employment and economic prosperity for the region. The airport already generates an estimated US$3.6 billion annually for the 16-county area surrounding it and the airport has form, it was formerly a major cargo hub, as the home base of Trans World Airlines (TWA) until the latter's absorption into American Airlines in 2001 whilst geographically it is strategically placed, with seventy million people living within just five hundred miles.

The four active runways can handle the largest of aircraft, including the giant Antonov An225 and the adjacent cargo area stretches to 21,500 m2. When pressed Cargo Development Director, David Lancaster, waxes lyrical about the lack of night-time operating curfews, a 24/7 Customs presence, STL’s proximity to inland waterways and major highways and the lack of ramp congestion and slot constraints. He continues: 

“Attracting scheduled freighter services is a long process, especially in the currently unfavourable environment where freighters are being parked and frequencies reduced. We continue to work hard for this business, but tangible results could take some time yet. On the other hand, ad hoc charters continue to flourish. We already accommodate many such flights each year, and we are well suited and located to expand this important area of our business.

“Some of the leading charter operators already pick STL whenever they are allowed a choice of airport by their customers, and they speak highly of the ease of operating here. We now want the rest of the sector to get the message loud and clear that we love cargo charters!”

Photo: STL regularly handles ad hoc charter flights