If you think working in the air cargo business wouldn’t be much fun, you need to meet Beti Ward, CEO of Pacific Air Cargo. “Do you know what a small herd of Alpaca, a helicopter, a Boeing 777 engine, and a whale have in common?” she asks.

The answer: “All of these have recently been transported to their destinations by Pacific Air Cargo.”

This fast-growing company is based at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and flies 747s to Honolulu most days and American Samoa weekly. “As an experienced express air cargo operation, Pacific Air Cargo’s drop off time extends to midnight with assurances of a 6 a.m. arrival. Not many offer that kind of service,” Ward says.

In the past several years, Barnstable Municipal Airport has completed $40 million in projects, including the construction of a new tower and terminal. In December 2011, the managers of the airport – which is owned and operated by the town of Barnstable, Mass. – realized that more expansion projects were necessary to ensure the facility met today’s needs and maintains its position as a major economic driver for the area. 

“The airport has been here since 1928 – the runways are more than 20 years old, the taxiways are older than that, and parts of the east ramp were built in the 1950s,” explains Roland “Bud” Breault, airport manager. “Now we have about $15 million to $20 million in projects either going on or planned because of my focus on a long-range capital plan.”

Most people probably don’t think too much about what is involved with moving commercial jets while they are still on the ground. Currently, pushback vehicles safely move aircraft backward from gates most of the time, while the engines power forward taxiing. Aiming to change all of that, WheelTug has been working on an electric built-in unit that can move the aircraft backward and forward without having to engage the engines or tugs. 

“WheelTug is about innovation that enables massive customer benefits,” CEO Isaiah Cox says.

WheelTug has become an industry leader in what is now an emerging e-taxi market. Its fully integrated ground propulsion e-taxi system is a nosewheel-mounted, high-torque electric motor and drive powered by the aircraft's auxiliary power unit. The goal of the WheelTug system is to save time, fuel and money for airlines by allowing their aircraft to taxi and maneuver at the gate without using their main engines. 

With mobile communications, the whole rental car industry is in a state of flux as legacy companies compete with Internet start-ups that offer car rental by the hour and locations all over cities.

“Because of the cell phone and other technology, the rental car business is changing,” points out Bob Bolton, director of design and construction for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Those changes are being incorporated in the new rental car center that is being built as part of the north side development at San Diego International Airport.

“This building is designed to accommodate the technology and the industry of the future,” Bolton states. “These facilities are set up for 30 years of business.”

It’s not every airport whose customers are coming to see Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, the Orange County Convention Center or a world-class medical research campus. But those are just some of the destinations to which patrons of the Orlando International Airport are headed, some of whom might be experiencing their first airplane landing or at least their first in a while.

“We’re focused right now from a holistic standpoint on a customer service transformation project,” Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Executive Director Phillip Brown declares. This involves all the agencies and departments at the airport, not just the Aviation Authority but the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and even concessions such as food and beverage, and retail and rental car companies.

As the gateway to one of the United States’ most unique cities, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) has to make sure it stays state-of-the-art. This goal has been the focus of two of its most recent projects, Iftikar Ahmad says. 

Ahmad, the director of aviation for the New Orleans Aviation Board, says MSY recently finished a renovation budgeted at more than $300 million and will soon start the construction of a new terminal. Both, he notes, will ensure the airport has “world-class operations.”

With more than 10 years of experience in the transport business, Progressive Transportation Service (PTS) Inc. has become a freight shipments leader in the western United States. The company’s over-the-road, intermodal and drayage, heavy haul, flatbed and other specialized carrier services are all focused on delivering exceptional results for customers.

Home to the second-largest global operation for FedEx Express, Indianapolis International Airport (IAA) maintained relatively high margins during the worst years of the Great Recession. However, like countless other U.S. airports, the airport’s leisure travel revenues declined as the economy came to a standstill, and that stream has been slow to return to normalcy.

However, the IAA has launched numerous non-airline projects currently under construction and in the pipeline to maintain a solid financial footing in both good times and bad.

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