Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) handled record volumes of cargo last year as it breached the 1m tons milestone for the first time.
DFW said the record volumes were driven by shifts in the global supply chain, including a shift from ocean to airfreight due to port congestion.
The previous record of 972,000 tonnes was achieved in 2019 before volumes backed down to around 880,000 tonnes in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
The airport has also been investing in digitalisation to “streamline processes and gain efficiencies, avoiding the congestion seen at other major air cargo gateways”.
“A key component in DFW’s strategy is to invest in systems that accelerate digitalization of the cargo ecosystem, including the DFW Cargo Cloud,” the airport said.
“The DFW Cloud is an open-architecture digital data-sharing platform that allows cargo community members to seamlessly and securely exchange data, reduce paperwork and facilitate efficient transactions and handoffs between partners.”
The airport has also introduced a slot booking application for trucks to speed up drop-offs and pick-ups for truckers and reduce congestion.
The airport is also investing in infrastructure and later this year work will start on two new air cargo buildings offering an additional six aircraft parking spaces.
Target verticals include e-commerce, perishables, and pharmaceutical/life sciences products.
John Ackerman, executive vice president of global strategies, said: “With the development of new airside cargo facilities and infrastructure, and with an ideal, mid-continent geographic location that allows our customers to reduce transit times and increase speed and efficiency, DFW is poised for future growth.”
Earlier this month, the airport won a new freighter service from Silk Way West Airlines.
DFW-hubbed American Airlines has also seen its volumes continue to recover following the pandemic.
In an interview with Air Cargo News late last year, Ackerman said that the airport had taken the strategic approach of developing infrastructure itself rather than relying on third parties, as is often the case at US airports, in order to get a more balanced mix of cargo companies operating at the airport.
“That will be our model going forward,” said Ackerman. “We are doing that because we want a good mix of handlers, perishable facilities, ramp space, all the things you need to make a proper cargo community.”
Ackerman said the airport is well positioned to reach a large swathe of the US population.
He pointed out that Dallas is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the US – and the fastest growing – and has a catchment area of 30m people.
“If you are an airline, forwarder or handler you are making long-term bets and you have to choose carefully where you make investments.
“We can show them that we are where it is happening – the net migration of our country is heading for the Sun Belt region of the US and we are at the centre of the Sun Belt.”
He says that traditionally cargo is brought into the country through coastal ports and airports, but these hubs often suffer with congestion.
“For e-commerce that is the strategy we are pursuing, overfly the coast and bring it into DFW.”