Terminal to be built, revert to state later

Private-public partnership fosters BWI cargo facility

Air freight

July 16, 1999|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

In an unusual partnership, a private airport terminal company will design, build and operate a cargo facility at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and give it to the state after 25 years, state officials announced yesterday.

The new terminal -- which could be as large as 358,000 square feet -- will accommodate an air freight business at the airport that has seen double-digit growth in recent years.

It is expected to reduce taxi time for cargo aircraft and give trucks easier highway access and more parking.

"This agreement will provide much-needed warehouse and office space for air cargo at BWI, helping companies throughout the state move freight and mail more efficiently," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who announced the deal yesterday. The state Board of Public Works approved the contract, with McLean, Va.-based Aviation Facilities Co. Inc., at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The Maryland Aviation Administration, a state agency that operates BWI, has begun spending $16 million to prepare the site for the new complex, which will be across the main runway from the airport's passenger terminal.

Under the deal announced yesterday, the company will buy three cargo buildings at BWI for $11.5 million to reimburse the state for some of the site-development costs.

To foster the deal, Aviation Facilities has formed a unit called AFCO Cargo BWI II.

The contract allows AFCO to build one to four buildings on the site over the next 20 years, and to operate each for 25 years before transferring ownership to the Maryland Aviation Administration.

AFCO will pay the state 18.6 percent of its gross revenue from the site. State officials estimate those payments will total $25.5 million during the first 25 years of the contract.

"This deal will enable the airport to increase capacity to keep up with the growth in air cargo over the coming years," said John D. Porcari, state secretary of transportation.

BWI handled a record 421 million pounds of freight last year, 19 percent more than in the year before.

During the first five months of this year, 163.5 million pounds of freight moved through the airport, slightly less than in the corresponding period last year but well above the totals of previous years.

Aviation Facilities, one of two bidders for the contract, runs one of BWI's current cargo buildings. It also owns or operates air cargo facilities at 11 other airports.

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