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New Calgary airport property owner shifts focus to air cargo

Aerial view of warehouses at an airport with planes in the distance.
A logistics center at Calgary International Airport hasn’t been used for airfreight since its inception 15 years ago. New investment manager Realterm wants to change that. (Photo: Realterm/CBRE)

A jungle gym, indoor go-kart track and other mismatched businesses will eventually be moved out of a logistics complex at Calgary International Airport in Alberta to make way for cargo operators that can utilize the airside access for its intended purpose — moving commerce — according to the property’s new owner.

Realterm, a global investment manager focused on logistics infrastructure and a developer of cargo real estate at airports, last week announced it had acquired control of more than 502,000 square feet of industrial property adjacent to the Calgary airfield. According to public records, Realterm assumed the ground lease in a deal with Great West Life and will make payments to the airport authority for 49 years.

Calgary International Airport is the fourth-busiest airport in Canada and handles three-quarters of air cargo in the province of Alberta.

Three of the five buildings in the logistics center sit along the tarmac and have the capability to host freighter aircraft. In the 13 to 15 years since they were built, none of the facilities have had dedicated air cargo tenants, said Alexi Lachambre, Realterm’s vice president of investments.

Instead of leveraging airport infrastructure, Great West Life appeared to cast a wide net beyond aviation users. Other tenants include a FedEx Ground station, an in-flight catering company, and an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul provider.

When leases for space occupied by go-kart and other nonaviation businesses come up for renewal, Realterm plans to find tenants that need the convenience of operating at an airport.

“We’re gonna purposely market them towards aviation users who we think are better for those buildings,” Lachambre said in a phone interview.

Buying the facility at a much lower cost than having to build from scratch will enable Realterm to make cargo space available to potential customers at a much lower cost, he said.

Calgary airport has two full cargo terminals that support passenger and all-cargo airlines, as well as dedicated air transfer stations for FedEx Express, UPS and Purolater.

Lachambre said the air logistics center, which is close to a regional north-south highway, gives other air cargo providers the ability to quickly set up their own operations with direct ramp connections between cargo jets and a warehouse. Interest in cargo infrastructure at Calgary is high, he added.

Realterm said it will make investments to improve the warehouses for airfreight operations as needed.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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