Counting down to Amazon Air operations launch

By Gary Huffenberger -

WILMINGTON — With the first night of Amazon’s air gateway operations in Wilmington less than two weeks away, the air park staff has been “incredibly busy,” reported the chairperson of the Clinton County Port Authority.

“It’s going to be an interesting evolution for the business community here at the end of the month. We’re excited about that,” said Port Authority Chairperson Walt Rowsey.

Two ATSG-owned aircraft are on Ramp E near Airborne Road where Amazon Air has been training new employees how to use ground service equipment, and how to load and unload an aircraft, Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers said Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Port Authority board.

The training has been taking place on Ramp E due to ongoing construction work at the location where the actual air cargo operations will occur when practice turns into the real thing on June 26.

That will be the start of daily flights for Amazon Air here as the Wilmington Air Park will again become a bright-at-night place where packages are sorted and transported to their next destination by air.

The first flight will land at the Wilmington Air Park around 11 p.m. and the last aircraft of the night to get here will arrive around 2:30 a.m., air park officials said.

Though the attention of local residents and of Amazon Air’s new associates is focused on the approaching launch of the air gateway, the Port Authority board is looking ahead to next winter and securing runway snow removal equipment that’s up to the challenges that winter in southwest Ohio can pose.

Board members approved an action item to authorize the possible acquisition of snow and ice removal equipment via online auctions. The maximum amount to spend, under this particular agenda item, is $300,000.

Port authority board members held a sustained discussion about the various acquisition options for obtaining snow removal equipment.

The bottom line, said Port Authority board member Beth Ellis, is to have sufficient equipment “so we’re rock stars” when it comes to Amazon Air operations in Wilmington.

At another stage of Thursday’s meeting, Evers reminded attendees that the Wilmington Air Park is the largest commercial airport in the United States that does not receive federal funding on an ongoing basis.

ATI, a subsidiary of Wilmington-based Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), is leasing additional space in two buildings at the air park. ATI, which stands for Air Transport International, is an airline.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger