Delta Cargo cranks up refrigeration at JFK airport

Delta Air Lines has inaugurated John F. Kennedy International Airport’s largest temperature-controlled facility for pharmaceuticals and perishable goods.

The Atlanta-based carrier announced Thursday that it has doubled cold-storage capacity to 16,000 square feet with a $15 million investment in the stand-alone facility at New York’s primary international gateway. 

Delta (NYSE: DAL) previously had two smaller chambers that resided in its main cargo terminal. That space will now be remodeled for noncooler functions. 

The new building boasts an improved refrigeration system with dedicated chambers for different cooling requirements, automated temperature monitoring, a seafood section and solar panels. Delta Cargo is also in the process of obtaining certification from the International Air Transport Association to demonstrate the facility meets the highest standards for safely handling perishable and pharma products, according to spokesman Drake Castaneda.

“This is just one of the significant investments Delta is making to innovate and expand our service offerings to our Cargo customers,” said Rob Walpole, vice president of Delta Cargo, in a news release.

Delta will operate this summer up to 34 flights to 26 cities across Europe, Africa and the Middle East — including the top 10 pharma markets — as well as service to select Latin American and Caribbean markets from JFK.

Delta has 49 approved stations that can handle pharmaceutical-grade products. 

Airlines are increasingly investing in cold chain warehouses to offer more service for products like medicine, biologic drugs derived from natural sources, laboratory samples, flowers, fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, and chocolate. More consumers today are willing to pay for fresh, seasonal produce. 

Specialized products require special handling and insulated containers during transit, command premium rates and generate higher profits than general cargo.

Air Canada last spring opened a 30,000-square-foot cold storage facility at its Toronto hub. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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