Onorato, Airport Authority Announce Letter of Intent with Xi´an Xianyang International Airport for Air Cargo Development
PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Mike Langley, and Allegheny County Airport Authority Chairman Glenn Mahone today announced the signing of a letter of intent with China’s Xi’an Xianyang International Airport to establish a strategic air cargo partnership. The letter of intent, seen as the first step in building an “Air Silk Road” between Xi’an and Southwestern Pennsylvania, was signed last week when representatives from the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, Allegheny County Airport Authority and Pittsburgh Regional Alliance met with Xi’an officials in China.
“The signing of the letter of intent is a first and critical step in establishing air cargo routes between Xi’an and Pittsburgh,” said Onorato. “Pittsburgh International Airport is well positioned to serve as a major hub for Chinese business and logistics, and this agreement opens the door to great opportunities for our region that could mean more jobs, commerce and development.”
In April 2007, Onorato led a delegation of local business leaders on a trade mission to China, which included stops in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai to meet with Chinese business leaders, state officials and other decision makers, as well as representatives of more than one dozen Pittsburgh-based companies currently doing business in China. The mission, dubbed Opportunity China 2007, was the first of its kind to the Far East in more than five years and is part of a long-term, multi-year strategy that aims to expand export activities to China and promote the strengths of businesses in the Pittsburgh region to potential Chinese investors. The signing of the letter of intent was a direct result of the trade mission in April.
The next step in the process is a visit by representatives of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport to Pittsburgh International Airport to begin discussions and perform due diligence.
“China officials recognize Pittsburgh International Airport’s capacity to handle all types of aircraft, our accessibility by air, rail, land and water, and the availability of cargo facilities,” said Mahone. “Increasing air freight and trade with the U.S. is a priority for China, and the development of this ‘Air Silk Road’ to Pittsburgh is a priority and will require a great deal of work and collaboration with the business community and government leaders.”
The County and Airport Authority will establish a task force to focus on the China air cargo opportunity.
“Today’s announcement shows that economic trends – such as a growing number of exports – and opportunities for investment are converging to make our region a potential global center for air cargo services,” said Langley. “From the improved infrastructure in the airport area to thousands of acres of pad-ready sites to the cargo capacity at our world-class airport, we have laid the groundwork for new investment in the logistics and distribution strengths our region has to offer the global market.”
Allegheny County has been using state and local funding to install sewer lines, water lines and service roads in undeveloped land around Pittsburgh International Airport to create shovel-ready business sites. Currently, there are 2,000 acres of shovel-ready land available for development, including Clinton Commerce Park, Route 30 Industrial Park and Imperial Industrial Park.
Pittsburgh International Airport is located within 500 miles of nearly half the population of the United States and Canada, as well as nearly half of U.S. business markets. The airport also offers access to 63 percent of the industrial output of the United States by overnight truck or one-hour flight. More than 5,000 acres of the airport are designated as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), including the airport’s fuel farm, which offers significant fuel savings and an extra advantage for cargo shippers. Pittsburgh International also provides easy access to major highway systems, three class-one railroads, the nation’s second busiest inland port, and more than 200 air and surface freight companies.
Xi’an Xianyang International Airport is the largest airport in north central China, and one of China’s top 10 airports overall. Due to Chinese western expansion, passenger and cargo flights are increasing rapidly. Xi’an Xianyang International Airport is within a two-hour flight of 75 percent of China’s land mass and 80 percent of its economic resources. Currently, the airport connects to 79 other cities domestically and internationally.
Xi’an is the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road, a 5,000-mile-long trade route that linked the Roman Empire in the West with imperial China in the East. In the late 13th Century, Marco Polo became the first European to travel the entire route to China during a visit to the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan.