A new feasibility study of the air cargo supply chain process at JFK International Airport makes a case for how a new, connected airport-wide Truck Flow Management System (TFMS) would streamline cargo operations for truckers and airport personnel, save time, money, and fuel, and improve quality of life for residents, business owners and workers in the surrounding community. The feasibility study, JFK Cargo View: A System to Speed Truck Traffic Flow at JFK International Airport, was conducted by Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and commissioned by GatewayJFK, a Business Improvement District representing the off-airport cargo community, a vital link in the world’s supply chain.
The JFK Cargo View report makes the business case for the implementation of new technology that would include electronic data interfaces, cargo notifications via a mobile app, paperless truck check-in, and dock scheduling to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness and reduce idling time and diesel fuel usage. The goal of the TFMS is to improve efficiency and recoup the JFK cargo traffic lost since 9/11.
According to the Port Authority’s monthly (January 2022) Air Traffic Report, JFK Airport’s cargo tonnage was 103,096 short tons, or a projected 1.25 million short tons at year’s end, ranking it #8 among US airports based on air cargo tonnage, This is in contrast to
2000, when JFK Airport cargo tonnage ranked #3 among landed weight at US airports with 1.8 million tons. Maintaining JFK Airport’s prominent market position in the top 10 is challenged by US airports like Memphis, Louisville, Los Angeles, and Miami which currently generate between 2.0 million and 4.7 million in tonnage annually.
Key findings of the GatewayJFK/Rutgers Study:
- A TFMS system would reduce truck dwell time by an average of 38%.
- Truckers would be informed about when cargo, docks, forklifts, and personnel are ready, optimizing both import and export sides of the cargo process.
- A TFMS would reduce truck congestion and lower the environmental impact of idling trucks. For example, CO2 emissions would be reduced each year by 80 to 512 metric tons based on the time savings scenarios outlined in the study.
A TFMS would save an estimated $2.5-$16.0 million in direct trucking costs annually as a result of reduced man-hours and fuel and operational efficiencies.
“There is a clear need for an airport-wide information system for freight forwarders (on- and off-tarmac), ground handlers, and truckers to track and accurately schedule cargo pickups,” said Frank Liggio, Chair of GatewayJFK’s Board of Directors. “Implementing a connected system would optimize the entire cargo experience for all (on-airport and off-airport) stakeholders by saving time, money, and fuel and reducing emissions.
“The Port Authority’s development plans for JFK airport cargo facilities are a significant first step; however, the pilot program currently being tested at a single facility by a single cargo handler must inform, and be part of, an integrated, airport-wide communications system for cargo,” Liggio noted.
The existing cargo management technology on-airport at JFK is not reflective of the available technology in today’s marketplace. With the exception of fully integrated carriers such as Amazon and UPS, truckers currently have no way to know when cargo is ready for pickup, creating delays in the transfer process and economic losses for stakeholders within and beyond the logistics system. Other pertinent issues cited in the study are poor GPS to get to the facility, inefficient dock scheduling, and on-site congestion due to multiple trucking companies arriving at the same time, with no available staging area, and exacerbated by the reduced pickup window from 48 hours to 24 hours. Additionally, updated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations and mandatory inspection regulations from the Transportation Security Administration have added to cargo processing times on the ground.
For example, the logistics company M.R.Z. Trucking Corporation has dealt with challenges at JFK Airport for decades. President Mike DeVivo said, “We work from our off-airport location to satisfy an unrealistic 24-hour pickup window, and risk incurring costly storage fees at the airport. There must be a serious effort to expand, modernize and fully integrate the cargo handling facilities on the airport, with all the benefits modern technology offers.”
The inefficiencies have contributed to a decline in cargo tonnage at JFK Airport, with cascading effects.
- From 2004 to 2009, JFK air cargo-related jobs fell from 50,000 to 30,000, wages from $3 billion to $1.75 billion, and sales from $8.5 billion to $5.2 billion.
- In 2019, JFK Airport handled 1.3 million tons of cargo, down from 1.7 million tons in 2004.
- The Study surveyed area freight forwarders, brokers, airlines, and truckers; 95% rated wait times as poor or extremely poor, with 85% rating JFK wait times worse or much worse than other airports.
- Ground handling capacity and dock door availability were cited as the most common reasons for the long wait times.
- Area residents and businesses must deal with the environmental impact of diesel emissions, noise, and road congestion from lengthy truck dwell times and other factors.
Ed Figueroa, branch manager at global supply chain provider Kuehne + Nagel, confirms the frustration around cargo logistics at JFK Airport. “A well-thought-out plan must be undertaken by the Port Authority that truly reflects supply chain complexities and the insights, coordination, and communications across the public and private sectors.”
“GatewayJFK seeks to assist the Port Authority and the off- and on- airport cargo facilitators to firmly establish a plan to improve all aspects of supply chain logistics that are so critical to the local, national, and worldwide economies,” said Liggio. “Implementing a TFMS airport-wide can play an important role in reversing the domino effect that JFK Airport’s lost market share has had on revenues, jobs, and quality of life in the area. With the support and sustained attention it requires, New York’s air cargo sector has the potential to grow with industry trends and not miss out on the opportunity to preserve and increase jobs, strengthening its economic significance overall.”
JFK Cargo View: A System to Speed Truck Traffic Flow at JFK International Airport, jointly funded by GatewayJFK and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers University, was conducted from April to December 2021. The study, which used prototype operational process simulations, was conducted by Rutgers in partnership with Cayuga Partners, Farmingdale State College, and Econsult Solutions Inc.
Site visits and stakeholder interviews were done in the off-airport GatewayJFK cargo district and JFK Airport cargo facilities to obtain input and observe operations. Participants included on-airport cargo ground handlers, representatives from off-airport transportation companies, and area residents. In addition, the research team visited the district to observe truck movement, business activity, and the impact of adjacent warehouse and logistics properties on residents. Online and in-person surveys were conducted to gauge stakeholder satisfaction and insights, as well as ascertain the difficulty of getting to JFK Airport, the level of congestion experienced, delays related to the loading/unloading of cargo on-airport, and the challenges inherent within the off-airport GatewayJFK district itself. The preliminary results of this Phase I study are a compelling business case for an airport-wide Truck Flow Management System (TFMS) and a list of future investments intended to retain and grow air cargo business at JFK Airport, shorten delivery to consumers and enhance and support the on- and -off-airport synergy vital to the world’s supply chain.