FOX 2 gets exclusive look at cargo shipping at St. Louis Airport

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – It’s the story of a sleeping giant starting to wake up again. Air cargo business is soaring at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport, fueled by shoppers’ demands for more packages, more quickly, and a realization by shipping companies that St. Louis is a good place to get it done.

FOX 2 got a front-row seat on St. Louis’ supply chain to see how the things you order online end up at your door. Our crew hit the airport flight line at 4 a.m. and discovered that business is booming.

“I do think we’re getting noticed,” said St. Louis-Lambert Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

Not only has air cargo at Lambert surpassed 20 million pounds in a single month for the first in history in 2021, it’s on track to do so for seven straight months through the end of the year.

“As the demand grows for especially the holiday season, we see all of the cargo carriers increase that activity,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.

There are about a dozen daily dedicated cargo flights coming into the airport, she said. Top carriers like UPS and Amazon would be adding add a third daily flight, each, through the holiday season.

Our crew got on board a UPS plane as 75,000 to 80,000 pounds of packages were being offloaded.

The packages were inside large shipping containers shaped like the interior of the aircraft to take advantage of every inch of space.

For UPS, business keeps growing by the hour: more packages from more planes put onto more trucks, headed for more sorting centers and ultimately, doorsteps.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve added another 49 aircraft. Right now, we can process another 130,000 pieces an hour in the united states over last year,” said Ron Hines, a division manager for UPS in St. Louis.

“There is no better distribution than from the state of Missouri,” Hamm-Niebruegge said. “You can get anywhere in a day. In most cases, in an eight-hour drive, you’re covering a significant portion of the U.S.”

Passenger airlines are also filling open cargo space in their bellies with packages, she said.

Air cargo will account for 7% of St. Louis Airport’s total revenues of about $175 million: more than triple what it was 10 years ago.

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