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UTUTC-IU-21: Evaluation of Ohio-Michigan Regional Airports for Air Cargo Transportation: Freight Forwarders Perspective

Focus Area: Infrastructure Utilization


Principal Investigator:

Alper E. Murat, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Wayne State University       

Project Dates: 09/01/2010 – 06/30/2011; No Cost Extension to 12/31/2011

Project Year: FY 2011

UT-UTC Designation: UTUTC-IU-21



The need for fast and reliable transportation of time-sensitive freight has been steadily increasing the demand for air-road multimodal transportation. The freight forwarding, as a result, has become a highly competitive industry demanding excellence in operations management. The key factors determining responsiveness and competitiveness of a freight forwarder are facility location decisions (e.g., location and capacity of depots) and airport/flight selection decisions. In earlier work, we have quantified the cost of choosing an alternative access airport from a forwarder perspective and for a single day's shipments. Our earlier results indicate that the reliability (e.g. road congestion, flight delays), number of flights to different destinations and flight schedule intervals play more important role than airport proximity or fares in the forwarder's airport selection decision. The airport and flight selection is primarily driven by the demand characteristics (O-D, value density, etc), carrier availability, and flight schedules.

The Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan (OH-MI) are the two most active regions in the Midwest US in terms multi-modal transportation. This is mostly attributable to the large industrial base, proximity to Canada and short-sea transportation. The availability of alternative access airports as well as highly connected road network makes the region an ideal location to establish an interstate hub for air cargo freight forwarding service. Attracting more forwarders to the region will benefit both states through the direct investment, employment creation, and improved transportation services. Given the geographic distribution of population and businesses, the allocation of air cargo shipments to regional airports is unknown. The objective of this study is to investigate the major factors affecting the preference of freight forwarders in using regional airports in OH-MI. We will identify and quantify significant parameters in the forwarders' choice of airport in multimodal air-road transportation. Further we will develop models for forwarders' preferences to estimate the relative air cargo demand for different airports. The ultimate goal is to determine the equilibrium setting of factors affecting the choice of alternative access airports.

The key deliverable of this project is an analytical evaluation process which incorporates significant factors to predict freight forwarders' decisions for depot location and airport selection. We will then use this process to quantify the relative selection of region's alternative airports by geographical catchment areas and by air cargo characteristics. The two users of the developed process are freight forwarders, carriers, and airports. The forwarders will use the process developed as a decision support system to select airports for time-sensitive air cargo shipments and to evaluate the capacity contract options. Carriers can also use this process to estimate the relative demand potential in making such decisions as establishing or extending their flight operations in an airport. In addition, airports and local authorities can also better analyze the estimated effect of new policies and investment decisions related to local airports and road network on the regional air-road multimodal transportation.


UT-UTC Grant Amount                  $29,838
Match Amount                              $41,038  
Total Project Budget                    $70,876

Final Report: 
 Final Report PDF Symbol
Last Updated: 6/26/15