(The Center Square) — A Georgia study identified more than $103 million in air cargo investments at Georgia airports to keep up with growing demands, and state taxpayers may fund at least some of the projects.
The Statewide Air Cargo Study conducted for the Georgia Department of Transportation recommended the state create an Air Cargo Working Group to, in part, advocate for funding from the state legislature. The study does not include the air cargo investment needed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the country’s 13th busiest air cargo airport.
The upgrades are primarily for Albany’s Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, which needs $30.3 million, and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, which needs $70.8 million. Both Statesboro–Bulloch County Airport and East Georgia Regional Airport in Swainsboro need $1.3 million in investment.
Proposed upgrades range from apron rehabilitation in Statesboro and Swainsboro to $50 million to build a 220,000-square-foot cargo building in Savannah.
“Air cargo is critical to Georgia’s automotive industry, pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers and more,” Clement Solomon, GDOT’s intermodal director, said in a news release.
“We saw a significant increase in e-commerce demand fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic which highlighted the importance of air cargo for residents and businesses in Georgia even further,” Solomon added. “Demand is there and this study is helping us determine the next steps to adequately support the growing need.”
Fifty-eight Georgia airports have some level of air cargo activity supported by “ad hoc” or “on-demand” air cargo carriers, while seven airports in the state have scheduled air cargo service. Services range from international cargo airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson to smaller airports with integrated express carriers such as DHL, FedEx Express and UPS.
GDOT kicked off the study last year. A department spokesperson did not respond to a request for more information about possible funding sources.
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