Harry Mavrogenes, Stockton Metropolitan Airport director, discusses the potential benefits of air cargo in a guest column published in the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation’s most recent newsletter. Below it is reprinted in its entirety.
The San Joaquin Valley, one of the top U.S. agricultural producing regions, is finding that its agricultural products are increasingly in high demand around the world. Outside of the U.S., Asia in particular is a strong market for the bountiful produce, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, grown by local farmers. The demand for the award-winning wines by local vintners is another area of growth for exports.The question is how to transport these goods to new and expanding markets. When people think of San Joaquin Valley, recently recognized as among the top ten “logistics-friendly” locations in California, its sophisticated transportation network that features a deep water port, major interstate highways, and rail, immediately come to mind. An expanding means of distribution that is sometimes overlooked by the public, however, is air cargo services.
Freshness is key to the success in distributing agri-goods to Pacific Rim countries, and transporting produce so that it arrives in a timely manner has never been easier with air cargo. For growers in San Joaquin Valley, whose agricultural exports to Asia have increased over the years, air cargo is likely to become an increasingly integral part of their distribution network.
There are multiple benefits to using air cargo. Transporting agri-goods by air is one of the most efficient ways to deliver, especially in light of the demand for freshness. The demand for high-quality produce in Asian markets goes hand-in-hand with freshness. Trade practices have made transporting goods by air a more viable practice, too.
In fact, Stockton Metropolitan Airport is in an exciting period of growth for its air cargo services. The airport recently became home to Air Transport International (ATI), a Wilmington-based air cargo charter airline. ATI’s parent company, Air Transport Services Group, signed an agreement with Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc., an affiliate of Amazon.com, Inc., to operate an air cargo network serving Amazon customers in the United States. ATI is using approximately 16,000 square feet of warehouse space along with roughly 40,000 square feet of the ramp space available at the airport.
It’s advantages like the readily developed warehouse sites owned by the airport, adjacent to the airport’s large cargo ramp that make Stockton Metropolitan Airport an ideal site for air cargo services. The location of the airport, with direct access to both Highway 99 and Interstate 5, make it easily accessible to the surrounding community and other points of contact for logistics.
‘In addition to top-of-the-line air cargo capabilities, there are other benefits that set Stockton Metropolitan airport apart. These include the low landing fees that are much less than Bay Area airports, one of the longest runways in the region, and lots of aircraft space. A large skilled-labor pool familiar with logistics operations is also available from the area. In addition, there are safe and secure ramp and loading areas and quick barging turnaround to ensure products get to market.
It should be noted that opportunities for trade go both ways, with manufacturers in Asia looking for new channels to export their goods to the United States. Officials with Stockton Metropolitan Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport signed a Statement of Cooperation between Airport Administrations last summer to facilitate these efforts. The document recognizes their mutual desire to work towards creating new international cargo, passenger, and charter-service opportunities between the two airports.
Stockton Metropolitan Airport is on the cusp of providing local farmers and producers a golden opportunity to connect their goods directly with the global economy. If you have questions or comments, please contact Harry Mavrogenes, airport director, at 209-468-4709