Evidently the sky isn’t the limit for the ultra-modern, fast-paced passenger and cargo service at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.
Last week’s news of Frontier Airlines adding four non-stop cities to GSP is already old news to Monday’s announcement that Senator International and GSP are increasing cargo flights to 8-10 per week. That’s an additional roundup flight between GSP and Querétaro Intercontinental Airport (QRO).
Querétaro, located near Mexico City in Mexico’s Bajio region, is home to automotive, aerospace and production operations. San Luis Potosi, Mexico will build the BMW 3 series sedan in 2019.
“These new flights to QRO are another opportunity for manufacturers to move materials, parts and products quickly and more efficiently, “ stated David Howell, GSP chief operating officer. “These new flights to QRO are another opportunity for manufacturers to move materials, parts and products quickly and more efficiently. More and more companies are discovering GSP is a great alternative to the slower turnaround time at the crowded traditional air cargo gateways.”
“The airport district started Cerulean Aviation because we saw a need for the services that we are providing and we were confident that we could support companies like Senator International,” said Dave Edwards, GSP’s president and CEO. “This is an exciting announcement that reinforces our commitment to expanding GSP’s cargo services.”
Cerulean’s cargo and aircraft services include on-airport cargo facilities, build-up and breakdown of cargo, BUP (bulk unit program) transfer, bulk and containerized aircraft loading and unloading, on-call charter cargo handling, customs documentation processing and aircraft refueling.
GSP’s cargo traffic numbers have consistently increased over the past 18 months. The airport’s cargo numbers were up nearly 42 percent in March. More than 11.3 million pounds of cargo came through GSP that month compared to more than 7.9 million pounds in March 2017.
Edwards and GSP Airport Commissioners foresaw the evolution of cargo growth at GSP in 2011. “We said this was an opportunity for us to train our own staff and buy our own equipment,” Edwards said. “It’s like the chicken and the egg, which comes first) scenario. “We can’t get the airline to come, the handler to come unless one of the two here gets the other. We invested about a million dollars in 2011 and sometimes things just work out. A short time after that BMW had some challenges over at the plant.”
International cargo flights from Germany helped provide crucial parts to Greer’s BMW plant to maintain on-time delivery of key components to assemble the X models.
GSP is preparing for future cargo growth by constructing a new $15 million air cargo apron. This new aircraft apron will be able to accommodate simultaneous Boeing 747-800 freighter operations. The airport district will also break ground on a new 100,000-square-foot air cargo facility for FedEx later this summer. The new cargo apron and air cargo facility are scheduled to be in operation by the spring of 2019.
“Cargo has exceeded my expectations,” Edwards said. “I didn’t think it would grow as quickly as it has grown (November 2016) – to go from two flights a week to eighteen months later my team now is working on eight to ten flights a week. “
And it appears that will continue. Once a week (to Mexico) probably will go to twice a week. That service is doing well,” Edwards said.
The cargo apron is being constructed to handle the heavier Boeing 747-400 aircraft used for the service. “We can only put one of those big birds on the ground at one time so they have to be sequential,” Edwards said.
“Senator International is committed to meeting the highest standards of dependability and superior customer service,” said Tim-Oliver Kirschbaum, CEO for Senator International. “GSP and Cerulean Commercial Aviation are helping us meet the demands of our clients by providing safe and efficient cargo handling services.”
The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District started Cerulean Aviation in 2016.
In 2016, Senator started twice-weekly service with its “Senator Atlantic Bridge” between GSP, Munich (MUN) and Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN). Due to increased customer demand, Senator has steadily added flights from GSP to HHN during the past 18 months.
GSP’s $125 million renovation was completed last year.