In June, Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) eclipsed all-time records for both international freighter arrivals and international tonnage offload: 120 international arrivals, surpassing previous record of 109 in November 2018; 9,123 metric tonnes (20,267,267 lbs.) of international tonnage offload, surpassing previous record of 7,251 metric tonnes (15,986,948 lbs.) in November of 2018.

These records were reported by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) at its July 28 Board meeting.

The surge is almost entirely attributable to air cargo charters bringing in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other pandemic supplies for regional distribution. While the spike is not indicative of long-term trends, it speaks volumes about the airport’s ability to adapt and innovate.

“During this time of extreme supply chain disruption, Rickenbacker has proven to be an asset for the Columbus Region and the nation, serving as an efficient connection point to and from the U.S. market,” said Joseph R. Nardone, president & CEO for CRAA. “As one of the world’s only cargo-dedicated airports, Rickenbacker is demonstrating the advantage of doing business with a flexible and nimble team when time is of the essence. What takes other airports days, takes us hours.”

A notable innovation in aviation also contributed to June’s increased activity. Rickenbacker Aviation, the airport’s fixed-based operation, partnered with Emirates SkyCargo and freight forwarder EFL to handle the Boeing 777-300ER. The passenger aircraft is now serving in a critical cargo-carrying role as the pandemic-induced shortage of air freight capacity continues. Rickenbacker is one of the only non-passenger hub airports in the world to see a significant number of these type of flights.

“The success of this program highlights our partnership with industry and our ability to quickly innovate to meet challenges with our air freight partners,” said Nardone. “Particularly during this uncertain time, these successful partnerships demonstrate the resilience of our air freight community at Rickenbacker, and our continued focus and drive to be an industry-leading freight hub.”

Strategically located within a 10-hour drive of half the US and a third of Canadian populations, Rickenbacker offers a geographic advantage for shippers and distributors, quickly and reliably moving goods through North America. With a highly developed logistics community, one of the world’s highest rated foreign-trade zones, and superior speed and service, Rickenbacker has been a valued partner in connecting the healthcare industry with critically needed medical supplies throughout the pandemic.