In Chicago, air cargo volume is up by 15 percent over last year, which puts the city on pace to handle 1.8 million tonnes in 2017 and marks another record year for cargo at O’Hare. That high demand pushed a new cargo development to open ahead of schedule, according to the mayor’s office.
The second phase of the facility opened Thursday and has already created 600 permanent jobs in under a year, according to the mayor’s office. The northeast cargo development is on track to outpace the projected 1,200 permanent jobs it was expected to create at completion.
The cargo development expands the airport’s cargo operations and was funded by a $160 million investment by Aeroterm and more than $62 million of airport funds. The 240,000-square-foot Phase II building is occupied by Burak, Cargolux and Swissport tenant operators. When it is complete, it will be the largest airside cargo development built in the last decade at a U.S. international airport.
“O’Hare has long been a leading airport for air cargo, and thanks to Aeroterm’s development, Chicago is processing record cargo volumes,” said Ginger S. Evans, CDA Commissioner. “The opening of both Phases I and II of our northeast cargo development ahead of schedule is a testament to the strong demand and the fact that businesses around the world are continuing to choose Chicago O’Hare as their preferred North American gateway.”
Right on track with Phases I and II of the northeast cargo development, Phase III is expected to open in two to three years–also ahead of schedule. In total, this project will create an estimated 10,000 construction and permanent jobs as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the city.
The expansion allows O’Hare the ability to process a greater volume of air cargo in several ways. The addition of a 747-8 capable aircraft ramps provides 50 percent additional capacity in handling cargo from jumbo jet freighters. After the entire project is finished, the facility will deliver 800,000-square-feet of warehousing and apron pavement. This means up to 15 wide body aircrafts can unload at any given time. Each jumbo jet freighter is estimated to deliver cargo valued at $3 million on average.
Chicago’s surge in cargo activity is due in large part to its central geography and strong transportation infrastructure. Chicago has surpassed its large hub of peer airports as the top destination for air trade with China and trade with Asian countries continues to grow each year as new capacity becomes available at O’Hare.
The mayor has further plans for the international airport as well–the O’Hare 21 vision is a multi-billion capital program designed to modernize terminals, expand gates and improve connectivity. The vision will support tens of thousands of new jobs, add incentives for companies to relocate and further increase economic activity throughout the region.