An Atlas Air 747-8 jumbo freighter landed at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on Sunday, kicking off twice-weekly service from Stuttgart, Germany, controlled by global logistics powerhouse Kuehne+Nagel.
The world’s largest airfreight forwarder in February announced it had leased a cargo warehouse at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth airport (BHM) to establish a freighter hub in the Southeast for its virtual airline operated by Atlas Air and Cargolux. Kuehne+Nagel (CXE: KNIN) will initially rent a hanger to process shipments moving on its dedicated cargo jets while a permanent facility is built.
The flights are geared toward the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries. Mercedes-Benz, which manufactures autos and electric vehicle batteries in Alabama, is an anchor customer for the service. The route continues to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and back to Stuttgart.
“Our vision is to make Birmingham into a long-term gateway to and from the Southeastern corridor of the U.S. and we’re pleased to be able to provide customers with alternative options that support their supply chain needs,” said Greg Martin, senior vice president of air logistics at Switzerland-based K+N.
An official ceremony commemorating the inaugural flight was attended by local officials and representatives from the Birmingham Airport Authority, according to a news release from the airport. Kuehne+Nagel represents Birmingham’s first international, heavy-freight scheduled service.
BMH is the first non-tier 1 airport that K+N has used as a cargo hub in the U.S. Less-congested airports are becoming popular with cargo airlines and air logistics providers to ensure faster transit and lower fees for customers.
K+N achieved $685.5 million in fourth quarter operating profit, 43% less than the prior year as the global economy slowed but still better than any quarter other than a record 2021.
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