In air freight, airports are the places where export acceptance, import delivery, and shipment transfers occur.
As a transhipment cargo point, the airport is responsible for the following aspects:
- Safety, security, and adequate space of goods during warehousing and storage
- Smooth processing of goods in customs
- Security clearance and implementation of dangerous goods protocol
- Package validation
- Cargo operations
For these operations, airports need extensive ground support vehicles, not only for the cargo but also for the servicing of the aircraft and shuttle vehicles for the passengers. To efficiently handle cargo, airports need to have adequate facilities: terminals should facilitate fast intermodal freight transfers, while warehouses must be able to protect and store cargo.
The growth in global air passenger and goods transport is anticipated to significantly increase emissions. Aside from the aircraft, emissions from transshipment activities at airport facilities also originate from the energy consumption in its facilities, passengers and goods vehicles coming to and from the airports, as well as ground transportation. These areas present opportunities for implementation of sustainable practices.
Measures that can be implemented by green freight programs to reduce air pollution emissions from airports include the use of particle filters on airport vehicles and use of clean or alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, electricity, solar or hydro power, ethanol and bio-diesel fuels for on-ground vehicles (such as those used for transferring cargo). Data would be key to performance metrics, thus measurement and monitoring of emission data, including of activities from operation and maintenance, is important. According to Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 10, “ground services provide an excellent opportunity for alternative fuel vehicles because of their limited range of use, high daily mileage, long idle times, and frequent stops.” Conversely, emissions can be lowered from on-ground aircraft through installation of stationary aircraft energy supply systems and construction of taxiways to reduce taxi distances from terminal to runway. Noise regulation limits should also not limit availability of the airport to only certain times within a day as some freight airlines schedule their flights during off-peak hours to avoid congestion with passenger airlines.