A major increase in cargo being processed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport has been recently recorded by the Houston Airport System. The first three quarters of 2010 brought with it a total of 319,000 tons worth of cargo, while last year during the same time period the total reached 269,000 tons. A key factor for the 18 percent increase can be contributed to the airport’s one-year-old fresh cargo facility. The facility began importing flowers from South America in November of 2009, and has expanded its operation. “Our fresh air cargo facility has increased the perishables market dramatically in the Houston area since it opened,” said Genaro Pena, director of Air Service Development. “It has processed a total of 3,557,775 kilograms of imports and exports from January to August.” The largest increase of perishables has come from edible fruit and nuts, which increased by 1,633 percent in the same time period. The facility is the first major perishable goods operation to open in the middle of the country. For decades, most of the flowers, fruits and vegetables have been flown to Miami and then trucked to all over the country, including Houston. The South Central U.S. lacks import options, which means a two-day delay for Houston perishables retailers and consumers. Having a fresh air cargo facility allows local restaurants and grocery stores to import products from around the world directly to Bush IAH. “We have widespread interest from local and national wholesalers, who are poised to utilize our fresh air cargo facility,” said Pena. However, as a result of Miami spending decades as the center for all things perishable, a logistical log-jam impedes any industry distribution. “Change is a very slow and tedious process,” said Marlene McClinton, public information officer for HAS. The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is considering to make the fresh air cargo operation a priority item by promoting it through members locally, nationally and internationally. The 61,484-square-foot facility, developed by Trammell Crow Company, is operated by Tradewinds Cargo Handling. The fresh cargo operation has the capability of changing traffic patterns for the distribution of perishables. “We are committed to growing the IAH facility and becoming a player in the cold transit industry,” said Pena. Photo: Bush Airport is a major distributor of perishables.

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