New International Centre is the first step in an aggressive plan to expand import/export services
BY John Boyce, contributing editor
DFW AIRPORT, TX — What at first glance appeared to be a culmination was in fact a beginning for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The 25-year old facility that sits on 18,000 acres of prairie land midway between Fort Worth and Dallas recently opened the brand-new 205,000-square foot International Air Cargo Centre with major tenants already in place.
During the ceremonial opening and reception to celebrate Lufthansa Air Cargo's occupancy of 50,000 square feet of the Centre, D/FW officials explained that the new facility is only the first step in an aggressive plan to become the air cargo airport of choice in the U.S.
Ground has already been broken on a new 223,000 square foot air cargo terminal just across the street from the new Centre and the airport has dedicated some 2,000 acres to expanding air cargo facilities in the next decade or so. All current cargo facilities sit on approximately 500 acres and measure more than 2.3 million square feet in capacity. To give these numbers some perspective as did Emir Pineda, D/FW's manager of cargo and trade development, Miami International Airport's entire property is 3,200 acres.
"We do just short of 900,000 tons of cargo and just over 60 million passengers a year," says D/FW's executive director Jeffrey Fegan. "D/FW will always be a major air passenger hub facility, but we are seeing a dramatic change in our air cargo position. In fact, while 900,000 tons is a tremendous amount of cargo, we're actually forecasting in the next 15 years for that number to double.
"We think we have a lot to offer in terms of runway and apron or raw land capacity to build facilities. We do not have any constraints and, from a geography standpoint, we're in a great position. We're on major trade routes between Asia and Central and South America, Europe and Central and South America, and between Mexico and Canada. There's a lot of opportunity. We feel very strongly about the future of cargo at D/FW airport." Fegan explains further that D/FW probably has 50 years worth of cargo growth. "We probably have enough land with taxiway access to quadruple our cargo facilities," he says.
Plans for the expansion of air cargo at the world's third busiest passenger airport began to take shape about four years ago when Fegan and his management team, plus some airport developers such as Trammel Crow Company, identified a growing need for additional cargo facilities. The numbers in the past few years bear out the need. In 1997, air cargo at DFW grew a dramatic 20 percent over the previous year. That was followed by an eight percent increase in 1998. This year to date, according to D/FW's first deputy executive director Kevin Cox, "In all cargo service we're up an astounding 56 percent. The fact of the matter is that cargo really is taking off at D/FW airport, if you'll excuse the pun."
INVESTING TO GROW
Some two years ago D/FW let the contract for the new air cargo terminal. A team of Trammel Crow and AMB Property Corporation were selected to build the Centre.
"They put together a plan to build this facility," Fegan says, "as well as a plan to continue to expand the facility to the south. It looked real good to us even though they didn't have a tenant at the time. We went ahead and invested a million and a half dollars or so of our money to build the roads and utilities and to extend the infrastructure. They (Trammel Crow) basically built the rest and paid for it."
Trammel Crow had previously built cargo and freight-related facilities but "this is the first ramp-served, with in-ramp hydrant fueling, cargo facility we have built," says Steven Bradford, vice president. The airport leased the ground to Trammel Crow for 40 years. The developer then built the building and leases it. In effect, Trammel Crow owns the building for 40 years but after that lease expires, D/FW takes ownership of the facility.
Worldwide air cargo has averaged 7 percent annual growth for the past 30 years.
Trammell Crow Co.'s 106 acres of new development will mean an additional $1.5 million a year in guaranteed land-lease revenue for the airport.
Trammell Crow will make plans for 640 acres southeast of the airfield.
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