Chennault Airport breaks ground on $4M cargo facility

(Courtesy Chennault International Airport)

Chennault International Airport has broken ground on a $4 million facility that represents its entry into the air cargo sector.

The air cargo pass-through facility is anticipated to be certified for international cargo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The new facility will be the centerpiece of Chennault’s latest effort to provide economic diversity and ultimately create new jobs at the airport, which is recognized as an emerging aerospace hub.

The project is propelled by $3 million in capital outlay funding from the Louisiana Legislature with the balance of the funding paid by the Chennault International Airport Authority.

“The willingness to change and look for opportunities outside of the norm is critical to remaining relevant in our dynamic world today,” Chennault Executive Director Kevin Melton said in making the announcement. “Chennault remains a game-changer for Southwest Louisiana—and we’re excited to offer this new opportunity for more development and more jobs.”

Chennault has retained air cargo consultant David Whitaker to help identify potential industry partners in the time ahead.

“Chennault is a very robust airport with enormous potential and Southwest Louisiana is a cargo-rich region of the world,” said Whitaker, who has more than 30 years of airport and air cargo operations experience.

Construction of the 10,000-square-foot warehouse will take 12-18 months. Contractor Trahan Construction was selected to build the facility; the contract was executed June 7.

As the warehouse is being built, ongoing discussions are planned with potential ground handling partners on such related issues as ramp handling, warehouse operations and securing unique ground equipment to service large aircraft.

“Much of the industry is already familiar with Chennault and the Lake Charles Region, given its first-class MRO tenants—including Northrop Grumman, Million Air, LandLocked Aviation Services and Citadel Completions,” Whitaker said. “Chennault offers relief to airlines and freight forwarders who need space and attention.”

“We believe there is value for companies to move goods through Chennault,” said Melton. “We provide a low-cost alternative to the larger markets where expense, ground delays, and airspace delays affect the efficient flow of goods.”

Denise Rau, president of the Chennault International Airport Authority’s board of commissioners, cited the airport’s legacy of public-private partnerships, saying that Chennault’s potential to become a Gulf Coast location for air cargo operations will rest in the same kind of partnerships.

Chennault International Airport, a center of aerospace activity based in Lake Charles, serves the needs of civilian and military aircraft from around the world with world-class infrastructure, state-of-the-art facilities and an array of tenant partners. Its runway is 10,700 feet long, 200 feet wide and built with 17-inch-thick concrete, with a newly refurbished parallel taxiway that has runway capabilities as well.