Amazon proposal could introduce cargo ops to Lakeland Airport

Source: Lakeland mayor and city commissioner May 20, 2019 meeting agenda

Amazon and Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) are requesting local government approval for a proposed $100 million investment from Amazon.com Services, Inc., that would go towards the construction of a 225,000 square foot air cargo facilityand a seven-jet cargo hangar at the Florida airport. The new deal would further expand Amazon’s already-robust operations in Florida and would thrust LAL into the national spotlight as a hub for e-commerce. 

As part of the 20-year deal, Amazon would develop facilities on a 110-acre parcel of land leased from the airport. Amazon would pay approximately $80,000 a month for the land, with the option to renew the lease three times for 10 years each – which could extend the current deal to a total of 50 years. 

Amazon would also be required to pay LAL 85 cents per 1,000 pounds of cargo landed, with a 3-cent surcharge per gallon of fuel. 

For its part of the deal, LAL is required to: 

  • upgrade landing systems at the airport that would facilitate aircraft operations in inclement weather 
  • add five additional fuel tanks in the airport’s existing North and South fuel farms 
  • rehabilitate LAL’s runway 9-27, located adjacent to Amazon’s proposed facility – further details for this project will be decided following the determination of whether the airport receives a grant award from the government this September  

LAL is located one hour east by driving from Tampa (TPA), where Amazon recently grew its footprint through its service provider Atlas’s acquisition of ex-United space at the airport. While LAL did not formerly host any large cargo operations, over the past year the airport demonstrated increased interest in hosting domestic and international air cargo and set the goal as one of its development targets moving forward. Approval of the deal would well support that goal. The potential influx of e-commerce is also anticipated to create 800 to 1,000 jobs at LAL and its surrounding area, according to The Ledger. 

According to other local news sources, LAL supported this effort by heavily invested in developing the northwest parcel of land now eyed by Amazon. LAL also recently opened a U.S. Customs and Border Projection office at the airport. The facility and agreement with the U.S. federal government to host this office enables the airport to handle international freight should Amazon intend to use the point as a national point of entry for its operations.  

Given the size of the proposed investment, Amazon will likely operate the 737-800Fs Southern Air has begun putting into service for the e-tailer, as reported by our sister site, Cargo Facts 

Amazon’s decision to grow its operations in the Tampa area with this development reminds one of the company’s other projects at Wilmington (ILN) and neighboring Cincinnati/North Kentucky (CVG) – where Amazon broke ground on construction of a new facility earlier this week. How Amazon’s development of operations at neighboring airports will feed into its overall strategy remains to be seen, but is clearly an emerging trend to watch. 

Lakeland City Commissioners will vote on the deal in the afternoon of Monday May 20, following which, Cargo Airport News will provide an update on the situation.