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March 28, 2018 4:00 PM, EDT

UPS Begins Regular Cargo Flights Out of San Bernardino Airport

San Bernardino International Airport

San Bernardino now has a hand in getting e-shoppers their packages as quickly as possible.

UPS Inc. has started operating five cargo flights a week out of San Bernardino International Airport, officials announced March 26. A Boeing 767 wide-body freighter out of San Bernardino can carry as many as 15,000 Next Day Air express packages to the UPS Worldport global air hub in Louisville, Ky.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers and UPS Supply Chain ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in the U.S. and Canada.

The partnership is a logical transfer of additional cargo capacity from UPS’ West Coast hub for air and truck cargo at Ontario International Airport to San Bernardino, Inland Empire economist John Husing said by phone March 27.

RELATED: UPS orders 14 more Boeing 747s

The airports would not be adversarial, Husing surmised.

“When you look at our particular economy in the Inland Empire,” he added, “the key sector is logistics, the movement of goods and the handling of cargo, which, obviously, UPS is a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

Between 2011 and 2017, the Inland Empire added almost 300,000 jobs, Husing said. “And 23.3% (about 69,000) of those were in logistics. It is by far the most important employing sector in the region.”

The agreement between UPS and the San Bernardino International Airport runs through 2020 and includes operating space and aircraft parking positions in the central portion of the airfield.

UPS has hired about 100 employees to help with daily operations, said Mark Gibbs, the airport’s aviation director.

“We are pleased to accommodate growing demand for air cargo in the Inland Empire and are happy to see UPS continue operating from SBD year-round, and in the years to come,” Mayor Carey Davis, president of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, said in a statement. “UPS is already a major employer in the region, and has been hiring people from our community to support these ongoing flights.”

For two years, UPS has used San Bernardino International Airport to transport holiday shipments to its Louisville hub. In 2016, the global logistics giant operated 12 total flights. At peak times this past winter, UPS ran 18 flights a week.

“We take a lot of pride in our facilities, and we have invested in our infrastructure,” Gibbs said. “Airports require a lot of infrastructure to support large aircraft and there was a 10-year period where we invested a lot in our facilities. Now it’s starting to pay off. All our hangars are full and we’re getting into the cargo business as well.

“We’ve tried to make smart investments over the years because we’ve got that infrastructure in place now,” Gibbs added. “UPS is a good example of that investment.”

San Bernardino International Airport was converted from the former Norton Air Force Base in 1992 and later became certified as a commercial airport by the FAA. By partnering with the airport, Husing noted, UPS has acknowledged San Bernardino’s value to the company.

“You can’t have an economy that is involved in goods movement to the extent ours is without the infrastructure to support it,” Husing added. “It looks like San Bernardino International Airport is becoming a key piece of that infrastructure.”

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