Amazon Air uses Wilmington Air Park slightly less, but site continues key role, study finds

It complements CVG and provides critical backup, DePaul professor says.

Amazon Air is reallocating flight capacity as the U.S. economy nears a possible recession and is “doubling down” on its expansion at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, according to a new study from the DePaul University.

And as it does so, Wilmington Air Park will continue to play a critical backup role for Amazon, one of the report’s authors said.

Amazon Air is gradually consolidating its U.S. activity at four air cargo hubs: At Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (identified by its three-letter airport designation as “CVG”), Fort Worth Alliance, San Bernardino International and Lakeland, Fla., says the report from DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

“Wilmington Air Park ( or “ILN”), which is just 60 miles by highway from CVG, has a complementary role,” said the report. “Although its daily flight activity fell from 24.2 in March 2021 to 15.3 at present, its flights generally depart for airports not served by CVG, with particular emphasis on California and the West.

“Moreover, on some days, a short-hop flight leaves CVG for ILN in the late evening, arriving at ILN in time to catch its early-morning departures,” the study added. “The percentage of its domestic flights accounted for by either CVG or ILN grew from approximately 30.4% in March 2022 to 42.6% in February 2023.”

“We are bullish about a continued role for Wilmington due to the early-morning clustering of flights,” one of the report’s authors, Joe Schwieterman, a DePaul professor of public service management, said in an email. “It complements CVG and provides critical backup.”

Questions about the report were sent to an Amazon representative. Questions were also sent to a Clinton County Port Authority representative.

Amazon’s operation at the former Air Force base in Wilmington — an operation that began in spring 2019, following a pilot project — is where the spokes of a massive cargo-sorting hub meet, with 1,100 employees (as of last July 2022) working across 1.1 million square feet of space — 550,000 square feet on each of two levels of a massive facility.

The new report holds that Amazon Air’s expansion in the continental U.S. will remain “relatively slow,” at an annualized rate below 10%.

“Yet, there will be much additional expansion at CVG, pushing daily flights, including partner activity, to 90, up from 70 to 74,” the study says. “The number of departing flights in its early-morning cluster will likely expand from 13 to 14 today to around 20, thereby filling more gaps in its US coverage.”

Of Wilmington’s role, the study added: “Service will continue to reduce congestion, provide operational backup when problems occur at CVG, and support airplane maintenance.”

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