Future Cities

Air Cargo Submarkets Command Rent Premium

March 16, 2021 2 Minute Read

As e-commerce growth pressures shippers to shorten delivery times, industrial & logistics submarkets near major cargo airports are commanding a 13% average rent premium over the broader market.

The top three airport submarkets with the highest rent premiums are Chicago O’Hare (47.1%), Oakland (32.0%) and Dallas/Ft. Worth (22.1%).

Third-party logistics operators were the most active occupiers in 2020, accounting for 29.6% of total leasing in airport submarkets, followed by general retailers and wholesalers at 24.4% and e-commerce companies at 16.0% Food & beverage companies accounted for 12.5% of leasing in airport submarkets—4 percentage points higher than their share of overall U.S. industrial & logistics leasing activity.

Figure 1: Airport Submarket Rent Premiums

table showing airport submarket rent premiums q4 2020

Source: CBRE Research, Q4 2020.

Figure 2: 2020 Most Active Airport Submarket Occupiers

pie chart showing 2020 most active airport submarket occupiers

Note: Includes new leases, user sales and renewals in top U.S. airport submarkets 100,000 sq. ft. and above.
Source: CBRE Research, Q4 2020.

At more than $6 trillion, air cargo accounted for approximately 35% of the total value of global trade in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Shippers and logistics operators use air cargo to quickly import perishable or high-cost goods from distant locations, such as smartphones from China, salmon from Scotland and roses from Ecuador.

COVID-related travel restrictions led to a 4.6% drop in air cargo volume in March 2020. But after restrictions were eased in the second half of 2020, volume increased as companies sought to quickly replenish their inventory stockpiles to avoid shortages. Additionally, many cargo flights moved large quantities of personal protective equipment throughout the COVID pandemic.

Figure 3: Year-over-Year Change in 2020 Business-to-Sales Ratios & U.S. Airline Cargo Revenue Ton Mileage

graph showing year over year change in 2020 business to sales ratios and U.S. airline cargo revenue ton mileage
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Transportation Statistics T100 Segment data.

As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, demand for—and rental rates commanded by—airport-adjacent facilities are set to further take flight in 2021 and beyond.

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