SBD International Airport: A World-class Facility In The Heart Of The Inland Empire
Together with its partners, SBD International Airport has transformed the landscape of a community once devastated by the closure of Norton Air Force Base, taking the region toward its future as it responsibly builds on its rich aviation past. By forging long-term alliances, leveraging resources, and continuously investing in infrastructure and technology, the fledgling public facility of 20 years ago is now a world-class airport surrounded by a thriving, 2,000-acre commerce park. The choice of cargo giants, SBD also boasts sustained gains in corporate and international aviation and is primed to offer commercial passenger service.
A Major Player in U.S. Air Cargo
Located 60 miles from Los Angeles, SBD International Airport is centered in a growing metro area that's home to a population approaching five million people. Providing a strategic alternative to reach this highly desirable market has fueled growth for the Airport and its aviation clients, even amid the pandemic.
In only five years, SBD has become a major player in U.S. air cargo. In 2016, cargo activity at the Airport totaled just 36 flights. In December of that year, UPS began operations with a single daily flight and a 5,000-square-foot building. It has since expanded to 60,000 square feet, a long-term lease, and up to twelve daily flights. FedEx experienced similar growth after its initial flights in 2018, signing a 10-year lease and building a second facility. During the pandemic, when both carriers increased capacity, SBD boosted staffing to support additional flights.
Amazon Air is the latest cargo giant to choose SBD. The retailer began operations of its new regional air hub at the Airport in April 2021. With a 35-year lease and over 700,000 square-feet in facilities, the project will boost growth for decades. "The Amazon Air Regional Air Hub represents the successful culmination of our long-term vision and far exceeds the initial goals we set 20 years ago," says Michael Burrows, the Airport's Chief Executive Officer. "Enabling companies to fast-track deliveries while offering them an attractive cost structure in a highly competitive market has proved to be a win-win strategy—and it is a success we can replicate in our future alliances."
The Future Takes Flight
On the same grounds where WWII airmen once trained, SBD now readies pilots for aviation's future: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). In 2020, the UAS Center at SBD was established in partnership with CalTech and the Inland Valley Development Agency to support the innovation, commercialization, and integration of UAS testing and training technology.
"The rapid adoption of UAS technology creates unprecedented opportunities for our region and the world," says Burrows. "The center provides technology companies a convenient location where they can conduct UAS test flights, and offers training and certifications to the region's first responders. By ensuring that SBD is at the forefront of advancements like UAS, we pay homage to the rich history left by Norton AFB and revitalize excitement about the future of aviation in the community.