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May 22, 2015

“Supply chain practitioners only have a few modal choices when it comes to transportation and although the most costly, air freight is also the fastest and most reliable,” said Rich Thompson, managing director for JLL’s Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI) group“Real estate investors with properties near intermodal-friendly airports like Chicago O’Hare and Miami International are reaping the benefits: higher rents, higher returns and lower vacancy rates.”

Some companies, desperate to replenish their inventories, utilized air freight to bypass recent congestion issues at West Coast seaports, and this inflated air cargo volumes in 2014. Long-term growth projections appear to be less favorable, however, since port operations are returning to normal, global GDP is moderately increasing and air cargo’s speed-to-market benefits are often offset by higher costs. Some need it, while most do not: A flower importer is likely airport-reliant, while a dry goods importer has the lower cost option of ocean transport.

This impacts freight volumes and space needs, and our study takes a close look at 10-year cargo averages at the nation’s 12 busiest airports to explore the performance of their surrounding industrial facilities. We then rank them to see how they compare to one another.

Global air cargo realized a 4.5 percent annual increase in 2014 and the forecast calls for 5.0 percent growth in 2015. Of the 12 airports in this study, year-over-year growth was up 2.8 percent.

This comes on the heels of global GDP’s measured acceleration since 2010, and some retailers—contending with congestion issues at West Coast ports through the 2014 holiday season, and well into the first half of 2015—utilizing air freight.​

Read more on what’s impacting air cargo this year, and how the nation’s top airports rank in value to investors, developers and occupiers of airport-centric industrial properties in JLL’s 2015 U.S. Airport Outlook.

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