In Hendry, Airglades still clearing a few hurdles

CLEWISTON — Airglades International Airport LLC’s development of an additional South Florida hub for import and export just west of Clewiston is nearing takeoff-ready status, with several recent advances in lining up shippers and support services for airport users.

A news release from the corporation’s office announced last week: “With the support of the local community and perishable cargo industry, Airglades International Airport (AIA) has taken major strides to accomplish the next steps in the AIA vision: developing a new state-of-the-art logistics complex in South Florida, to dramatically reshape the efficient flow of perishable goods from Latin American producers to North American consumer markets comprising over 80% of North American total traffic and related cargo backhaul.”

AIA spokeswoman Lillie Bell Rodriguez said that, “recognizing the significant performance gains through Airglades operations, the initial tier of major importers has made formal commitments to develop Airglades volumes and operations. A second major tier of importers is now under active negotiation.”

Furthermore, she reported Thursday, June 13, “Airglades has also secured signed letters of intent for critical infrastructure support from construction and fuel provider companies.” The corporation, she said, has moved on to labor toward the rest of Airglades’ 2019 goals:

• Finalizing the operating model for AIA and designing the required facilities;

• Arranging financing for construction of the airport and its start-up facilities;

• Designating the operator(s) of the AIA facilities;

• Finalizing agreements with all initial participants using the AIA facilities; and

• Securing all necessary government approvals.

When AIA LLC’s contract with the Florida Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and Hendry County’s Board of Commissioners is executed, AIA will become a fully privately operated shipping hub.

“AIA features a scalable design leveraging the latest in modern logistics. This unique development will bring widespread benefits to stakeholders in the U.S. perishables industry, the surrounding rural community of Hendry County and the state of Florida,” the press release went on.

“Airglades International Airport continues to actively engage organizations in parallel to finalizing conceptual design work,” it said.

Ms. Rodriguez explained that “we are currently reviewing candidates for line maintenance, MRO (aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul) providers and operators; in addition to solidifying agreements with users that will benefit from partnering in the AIA vision. Requests for Information (RFI) have been distributed to source the best candidate to execute this plan.

While progressing quickly, this will be an iterative process and we strongly urge those wishing to learn more to reach out with any questions,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

She is in Boston this week with other AIA staff members at the 91st annual American Association of Airport Executives Conference & Exposition.

AIA will be the first airport in the United States to be converted from public to private ownership under the FAA’s Airport Privatization Project, established by Congress in 1997. The FAA approved Hendry’s joint application with FDOT and AIA in 2010, and many millions of dollars’ worth of development is expected to occur in tandem with its development once it gets off the ground with construction of a 10,000-foot runway. AIA is envisioned to eventually relieve shipping bottlenecks at South Florida’s other major transportation facilities, including the ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and, primarily, Miami International Airport.

To learn more, visit airglades.com.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com

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