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April 1 2019

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April 1 2019 | The Journal of Commerce 11 Cover Story infrastructure on and off the airport resulted in JFK's 20 percent loss of cargo volume over the last decade. There's truth to the old expression, 'If you don't take care of your cus- tomer, your competitor will.'" Infrastructure deteriorates value According to Fried, this lack of investment in infrastructure deteriorated JFK's value proposition relative to other airports in the re- gion, and as a result, United Airlines moved its major New York opera- tions from JFK to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, while American Airlines shifted more assets and flights to Philadel- phia International Airport following its acquisition of US Airways in 2013. The AfA chief said airplane manufacturers also had an "un- witting hand" in denting JFK's dominance by introducing smaller, more economical long-range aircraft "that could make money on the thin routes — Providence or Hartford to Ireland — which siphoned off pas- sengers and belly cargo from JFK." After 10 years of declining cargo volume, however, "JFK's legendary attitude of entitlement is also begin- ning to change," Fried said. "There is light on the horizon." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October unveiled a $13 billion infrastructure invest- ment plan for JFK that includes a widening of the "notoriously con- gested" Van Wyck Expressway, one of the primary access roads to and from the airport. "We are starting to see glimmers of hope," he said. Fried said part of the reason the plan was so long in coming is that some of the corrective actions previously floated for JFK were unrealistic. "There were some pretty disappointing talks two years ago, when Gov. Cuomo suggested relo- cating JFK's cargo operations to little Stewart Airport, a former Air Force base 75 miles up the Hudson River. I couldn't see Qatar Airways flying to Poughkeepsie to drop off or pick up freight. Thankfully, they abandoned that notion." Given the way things are now, however, forwarders who work with JFK remain skeptical. Sol Green, export and import manager for All- Ways Forwarding, told The Journal of Commerce JFK's freight operations have not kept pace with its passenger business, especially with regard to technology. "The passenger side at JFK is very up to date, and the cargo side is very manual," he said. "There's no automation. We have to pick up the phone on practically everything." Green said there's a "disconnect" between the flight arrival and when the ground handling agent takes over, resulting in a "blackout" period during which shipments are largely unaccounted for. "While the han- dler's website says the shipment has arrived, is broken down, and ready for pickup, our driver gets there, and it's not broken down at all and he has to wait. There's a tremendous amount of trucks hanging out on the highways and airport roadways, creating bottlenecks, because of this misinformation." Automation needed Much of the blame, Green said, lies with ground handlers at JFK, the largest of which, World Freight Services (WFS), is controlled by a control Forwarders act to stem cargo congestion problems at US air hubs By Chris Barnett

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