WILMINGTON — Preparations are ongoing for Amazon’s upcoming air gateway operations at the Wilmington Air Park, including installation of a new airport gate entrance and a focused effort to obtain runway snow removal equipment for next winter.
This airport entrance will be a limited-access gate that will be utilized to ferry pilots as proposed by Amazon as part of its air freight sorting operations, Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers said Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Port Authority board. The Port Authority owns the air park.
At the meeting, the Port board OK’d an agreement with Digicom to install card readers and cameras at the new gate entrance.
These security measures are anticipated to cost no more than $28,000 and moreover are reimbursable because it is done at the request of a tenant.
Board Chairperson Walt Rowsey commented that the Port Authority can anticipate there will be more unforeseen requests for air park improvements for the Port to consider, “with this big client in particular.” Amazon is spending millions of dollars to revamp spacious Building F at the air park and install equipment as they work to roll out an air gateway this summer.
Evers and some Logistics Services employees recently attended a snow symposium in Buffalo, New York where they had an opportunity to see all kinds of snow-related equipment.
The air park contingent met with more than a dozen vendors of snow equipment, said Evers.
“We have followed up with several. Several have followed up with us,” he added.
In discussing the necessity to enlarge the air park’s snow removal fleet, Evers remarked Thursday that the air gateway will be a 24-hour operation. When Amazon initially announced in November 2018 that it would open an air gateway in Wilmington, the specific hours for its air cargo operations were not known at the time.
Pointing to the need for the air park to have the required amount of snow removal equipment for the Amazon landings and take-offs, Evers said, “That’s what took us to Buffalo.”
The board approved official minutes for the meeting it held in April. The minutes include a reference to the possibility of “previous defense installations being able to compete for federal grant funds.” The Wilmington Air Park was an Air Force base before it was decommissioned by the U.S. Air Force in 1972.
The April minutes continue, “Staff has had conversations with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] concerning opening up these [federal grant fund] applications to all airports that meet the criteria of being converted defense installations. There has been positive feedback from the FAA.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.