The arrivals area of the San Bernardino International Airport’s passenger terminal. Friday August 28, 2009. Rick Sforza/Staff Photographer

By Joe Nelson | jnelson@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: February 17, 2019 at 8:30 am | Updated: February 17, 2019 at 8:31 am

  • Nearly 4,000 jobs and millions in revenue expected within 5 years, officials say

San Bernardino International Airport and Hillwood Enterprises, LP are moving forward with plans to develop a massive air cargo logistics center at the airport that would house up to 16 aircraft and provide round-the-clock operations.

The Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics Center, to be built on a 101-acre lot west of Victoria Avenue and south of Third Street, is expected to provide nearly 4,000 jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenue within five years. With a price tag exceeding $200 million, airport Executive Director Mike Burrows called it an “immense opportunity.”

“This is a major development at the airport in an exciting and emerging sector,” Burrows said. “We are growing like gangbusters. This is a regional opportunity.”

Burrows said that, through the airport’s existing partnership with Hillwood, more than 11,575 jobs have been created at the airport since the closure of Norton Air Force Base, currently generating $2.3 billion in economic output for the region.

Eastgate is expected to create 3,800 more jobs, he said.

“The Eastgate project is poised to be a major catalyst for economic and community development in our communities, taking us into the next chapter of our airport development,” Burrows said.

The airport will receive ground rents totaling $2.6 million in the first year, Burrows said. Additionally, aircraft landing and fuel fees are expected to generate $4 million in revenue in the first few years of operation and more than $5.3 million annually when fully operational.

Construction is set to begin within the next 90 days and be completed by the end of the year or early 2020.

Could Amazon be operator?

The airport will enter into a 35-year ground-lease agreement with Hillwood, which will then lease the air cargo logistics center to its tenant/operator, Burrows said. An operator/tenant is expected to be announced within the next 90 days, he said.

It is unclear if the tenant will be Amazon, which already operates a fulfillment center at the airport and, in December, announced it would be expanding its air fleet by 10 Boeing 767-300 cargo jets to further enhance Amazon’s rapid-delivery system.

Amazon spokeswoman Rena Lunak declined to comment in an email Thursday.

John Magness, senior vice president and West Coast market leader for Hillwood, also could not comment on any ongoing negotiations with a potential tenant. In a telephone interview, he said Hillwood first floated the air cargo logistics center plan by Burrows three years ago, and the airport and Hillwood have been mapping out the project ever since.

“It’s a game changer,” Magness said. “This is our time. This is the time for airplanes to be returning to Norton Air Force Base.”

Norton closed in 1994 and eventually was converted into San Bernardino International, which has served as a general aviation and cargo facility.

An air cargo logistics center is a sortation facility for air cargo, whereby goods are delivered from ground to air and from air to ground, Burrows said. “This is an expanded model for what FedEx and UPS currently operate at the airport,” he said.

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