A logistics consultant exploring the feasibility behind Sault Ste. Marie's transpolar air freight initiative has been asked by city councillors to expand its analysis to include a former U. S. Air Force base across the border in Michigan.
Councillors were told in a report prepared by InterVistas Consulting Inc. that the Sault airport needs between $20 million and $40 million in infrastructural upgrades before it can compete as an air freight hub.
InterVistas will complete its work for a final report that will be ready later this summer, but was ordered by city councillors to include Kinross (Michigan) Municipal Airport, the former Kincheloe Air Force Base, south of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. in its comparative analysis of potential gateway airports.
The consultant's market analysis indicates the Sault is well-positioned to be a secondary air cargo gateway catering exclusively to Northern Europe and South and Central Asia.
But numerous challenges by way of federal policy and regulatory changes need to be met in order to open skies of the air cargo industry to foreign carriers and eliminate border tie-ups for truckers.
Some major investments are needed at the Sault airport, including runway extensions, cargo aprons and loading equipment.
If the co-operation from senior levels of government is there, city officials expect the project to take shape within five to 10 years.