San Bernardino International Airport

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Firm eyes S.B. airport
The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino International Airport, which has been unable to attract regular commercial flights since the former Norton Air Force Base closed more than a decade ago, is working with a French company that intends to use the airport to ship American-made parts to France for use in the manufacturing of Airbus jetliners. Global Cargo Network, which, like Airbus, is based in the city of Toulouse, is seeking to make San Bernardino the Southern California headquarters for its parts consolidation business.

The company also is developing contracts with airports in Ohio, Texas and Canada so it can sell Airbus on the idea of cutting several days from its parts-delivery schedule.

Global Cargo plans to truck aircraft parts from 22 California manufacturers to San Bernardino, store them until they are needed by Airbus and then ship them to France, according to Donald L. Rogers, interim executive director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. The company claims it will be able to cut delivery time from five to six days to 24 hours, Rogers said.

“It’s a good concept that seems feasible,” Rogers said. “We’re optimistic, but until the first flight comes in, you always have reservations.”

The deal, which goes to the airport’s governing board Wednesday, would result in regular-scheduled international flights from San Bernardino beginning in late September or early October, Rogers said. That would dovetail with ongoing renovations to the airport’s runway.

Global Cargo Network officials could not be reached to comment. But company officials have said during negotiations they have a tentative agreement with Airbus that is predicated on Global Cargo obtaining contracts with the necessary airports.

“This is not a done deal, but it is a good idea,” Rogers said. “Airbus in interested because it would cut their shipping time, which means inventories can be less, and that means money.”

The deal could bring an air travel component to an airport that is primarily known for the large warehouse and distribution center projects that have been built nearby. Mattel, Pep Boys and Stater Bros. Markets all have or are building large facilities in the shadow of the airport.

Attracting airport operations, however, has been tougher. San Bernardino tried to bring cargo giant DHL to the Inland area, but lost out in December, when the company decided to locate instead at March Air Reserve Base.

The proposal, headed to the San Bernardino airport’s governing board, would pay Global Cargo about five percent of all revenue generated for the airport by the company.

The airport would pay Global Cargo $5,000 to help start the service, and Blue’s Aviation in San Bernardino would also pay $5,000.

Don Blue, owner of Blue’s Aviation, said the deal has been in the works for about three years.

He declined to comment further until after a contract is signed.

San Bernardino airport officials said it is not clear how much Global Cargo could earn from its five percent cut. That would be determined by how many tons of parts are shipped from the airport, how much fuel is purchased there and how much hangar space is leased for storing parts until they are shipped.

To earn that fee, however, the company must bring in new firms that have not already been contacted by San Bernardino officials.

The firm will act as “a funnel, reaching out to the international community,” said Penny Chua, the airport’s marketing director.

“They’re going to act as a broker for us,” Chua said. “It’s a very good bang for the buck.”

Some airlines and cargo carriers that tried to establish service at San Bernardino International Airport:

  • UTF
  • One Air Cargo
  • Custom Air Transport
  • Casino Express Airlines
  • Ascend Aviation Group*
  • Valley Air Express**

    *Still in operation

    Source: The Press-Enterprise archives