Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport Begins Building Kuehne+Nagel Cargo Facility

Kuehne+Nagel Boeing 747-8F
Credit: Kuehne+Nagel

Alabama’s Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) has broken ground on a new $27 million cargo facility to be used by global logistics company Kuehne+Nagel, which launched transatlantic freighter flights to the airport in April.

Kuehne+Nagel started conducting 2X-weekly Boeing 747-8F flights between Stuttgart Airport in Germany and BHM on April 2, saying it will utilize the airport as a gateway for cargo bound for the southeast U.S. The freighter route’s launch followed the airport and the logistics giant reaching an agreement to build a cargo warehouse at BHM to be run by Kuehne+Nagel.

The Swiss logistics company, which operates in nearly 100 countries, is now using a temporary hangar at BHM, but plans to move into the new facility when it opens in the spring of 2024. Construction is expected to last about 10 months.

Kuehne+Nagel Senior Vice President for Air Logistics Greg Martin says the company’s “vision is to make Birmingham into a long-term gateway to and from the southeastern corridor of the U.S.”

As BHM points out in a statement, the deal with Kuehne+Nagel is part of a larger trend of freight forwarders increasingly directing international cargo away from congested U.S. hubs to secondary airports.

“This new operation at BHM mirrors what is happening in some other secondary markets across the country,” the airport says. “Smaller airports that have the infrastructure in place and the warehousing capacity ... are capitalizing on an industry desire to get cargo out to customers faster, cheaper and on a more predictable schedule.”

Becoming a serious cargo airport has been a “long-term goal of the airport, and to see it all coming together is a huge win for our community,” BHM Chair Darlene Wilson says.

She adds: “This partnership with Kuehne+Nagel represents a new era of business development at the airport and a realization of our long-term vision of expanding air cargo activity and making Birmingham and central Alabama more prominent in the southeastern corridor.” 

The cargo facility will span 53,000 ft2, including 48,500 ft2 of warehouse space. There will be five airside bay doors for unloading and loading aircraft. 

Kuehne+Nagel will subcontract warehouse operations management to ground handler Alliance Ground International.

The airport says it is open to growing its cargo business further, noting: “Birmingham is viewed as ideal for building additional cargo business due to its central location and the fact that getting cargo out to customers will not be slowed by the congested conditions that exist at large hub airports.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.