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Cargo volumes soar at Ontario International Airport


Ontario International Airport (ONT) in southern California has become the latest gateway to report a huge rise in cargo volumes since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The airport admits that while its terminals have been quiet for much of last month, air cargo shipments into and out of ONT soared by 22% in March, one of its largest ever year-on-year rises for a single month.

It believes the upturn underscores “the critical role ONT and Southern California’s Inland Empire play in managing and safeguarding the nation’s supply chain”.

More than 70,000 tons of commercial cargo moved through ONT in March, up 12,600 tons – or nearly 22% – from the same month in 2019.

From January through March, Ontario handled 186,000 tons or freight, a 13% increase over the corresponding period last year.

“Our airport is the heart of one of the most vital supply chain networks in the country, and during this time of crisis, it has become an even more vital trans-shipment hub for many household supplies ordered online,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority.

He noted that landing fees associated with increasing freight shipments help to offset decreases in landing fees generated by fewer passenger flights and help maintain ONT’s strong position as a cost-effective international gateway for all air carriers.

And as passenger levels declined and concessionaires adjusted operating hours accordingly, some impacted workers found new opportunities with cargo carriers.

Those workers are particularly attractive to cargo movers since they’ve previously undergone required federal background checks and possess valid airport credentials and understand airport operations.

According to the airport, cargo volumes at ONT are particularly notable given recent declines in freight shipments handled by larger airports around the world.

In fact the CAPA Centre for Aviation, which analyses trends in the aviation and travel industry, the top 20 cargo airports all experienced ‘sharp’ declines from January through March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ontario freight market, which includes a vast warehouse network proximate to major inter-state highways and the nation’s largest seaport complex, was the top-ranked US market for outbound cargo in 2018.

Commercial freight shipments through ONT totalled more than 760,000 tons in 2019, up 5.1% over 2018.

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