According to an article from Air Cargo World, Puerto Rico officials hope establishing a new air cargo hub – the first one in the Caribbean – will kick the island’s economy to life.
Four years ago, an idea emerged to transform to Aguadilla Rafael Hernandez Airport, formerly Ramey Air Force Base, into an air cargo hub. Puerto Rico District Export Council (PRDEC) submitted a proposal for the project to the local government.
In August 2012, a Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) was expanded to Aguadilla Airport, which is located in the northwestern city of Aguadilla. Now, PRDEC is helping local authorities develop the second stage of the master plan – capturing air traffic that overflies Puerto Rico.
Creating an air cargo hub in a FTZ will hopefully lead to more companies setting up offices in the region, says Jose Burgos, director of U.S. commercial service at the U.S. Department of Commerce. An FTZ offers benefits such as fuel that is 25-30 percent cheaper than in other Caribbean jurisdictions and less expensive than many places in South America. This is due to the fact there are often no local taxes on fuel in an FTZ.
Burgos says more companies in Puerto Rico will lead to more manufacturing.
“We’re trying to bring eventually, working with the local government, to bring those kind of companies here in Puerto Rico,” he says. “They start manufacturing here. We create a growing economy, grow employment. We can export more from Puerto Rico.”
Some large companies such as Honeywell, FedEx and Cargolux are already in Aguadilla. Now it time for the local authorities to come up with a plan to approach carriers and air cargo agents and encourage them to establish operations in Puerto Rico.
The airport has the longest runway in the Caribbean, so it can handle larger aircraft, and it is near an engineering school, which will attract companies seeking talent.
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