Amazon’s $100 million Lakeland Airport project approved

On 20 May, city officials in the Florida city of Lakeland approved a proposal between Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) and Amazon, submitted the week before. The $100 million investment from Amazon.com Services, Inc., that will go towards the construction of a 225,000 square foot air cargo facility and a seven-jet cargo hangar at LAL. The new deal further expands Amazon’s already robust operations in Florida and thrusts LAL into the national spotlight as a hub for e-commerce.

As part of the 20-year deal, Amazon will develop facilities on a 110-acre parcel of land leased from the airport. Amazon will pay approximately $80,000 a month for the land, with the option to renew the lease three times for ten years each – which could extend the current deal to a total of fifty years. Amazon will also pay LAL $0.85 per 1,000 pounds of cargo landed, with a 3-cent surcharge per gallon of fuel.

For its part of the deal, LAL is required to:  

  • Upgrade landing systems at the airport that would facilitate aircraft operations in inclement weather; 
  • Add five additional fuel tanks in the airport’s existing North and South fuel farms; and 
  • Rehabilitate LAL’s runway 9-27, adjacent to Amazon’s proposed facility – further details for this project will be decided following the determination of whether the airport receives a grant award from the government this September. 

LAL is located one hour east by driving from Tampa (TPA), where Amazon recently grew its footprint through its service provider Atlas’s acquisition of ex-United space at the airport. While LAL does not currently host any large cargo operations, over the past year the airport demonstrated increased interest in hosting domestic and international air cargo operations, and set the goal as one of its development targets moving forward. Approval of the deal supports this goal. The influx of e-commerce is also anticipated to create 800 to 1,000 jobs at LAL and its surrounding area, according to The Ledger 

According to other local news sources, LAL supported this effort by heavily investing in development of the northwest parcel of land now eyed by Amazon. LAL also recently opened a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the airport. The facility and agreement with the U.S. federal government to host this office enables the airport to handle international freight should Amazon intend to use the point as a national point of entry for its operations.   

Given the size of the proposed investment, Amazon will likely operate the 737-800Fs Southern Air has begun putting into service for the e-tailer.

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