2017-08-11_CVG_ZOOM IN.png

CVG 2.0 is a project created for LOGISTICAL ECOLOGIES: READING THE OPERATIONAL LANDSCAPE, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Spring 2017 seminar taught by Conor O'Shea. 

Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is a public international airport located in Hebron, Kentucky, serving the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area in the United States. CVG serves as the ninth largest passenger hub for Delta Air Lines, the largest global cargo hub for DHL, as well as the main hub for Amazon Prime Air, which began service on May 1, 2017. CVG is the fastest-growing cargo airport in North America, and is currently sixth in North America and 34th in the world for total cargo operations. 

CVG illustrates what Charles Waldheim and Alan Berger refer to as one of the three emergent categories of logistics landscapes: distribution and delivery. Following the deregulation of the US commercial airline industry in 1978, airports saw explosive growth, coming to serve as fundamental networks in the post-Fordist economy of logistics and distribution. The increase in passengers since 1978 has placed cities in greater competition to serve as hubs in the traditional hub-and-spoke model of air travel, exemplified with Delta Air Lines’ decision to create a hub at CVG in 1984. Flying in the United States changed drastically after the airline deregulation, evolving towards a dominance by big carriers along a path of mergers and acquisitions, consolidating their hub cities and de_hubbing airports along the way, specifically within the Midwest and Rust Belt regions. 

At its peak in 2005, CVG became Delta’s second largest hub, as well as the fourth largest hub for any airline in the world based on departures, placing behind Atlanta (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW). Following the bankruptcy of Delta in 2006 and its merger with Northwest in 2008, capacity was cut drastically, from 675 daily flights to 130 destinations in 2005 to its present operation of 87 daily flights to 35 destinations. As CVG is an economic engine to the Cincinnati area, this has come as a major loss to the area, with companies relocating to cities that have airports with greater flight availabilities. It was inevitable that CVG needed to reinvent itself.

DHL established a hub at CVG the same year as Delta, in 1984, though pulled out in 2004, moving its hub to Wilmington, Ohio. Returning to CVG in 2009, DHL underwent a $108 million expansion in 2015, doubling its current cargo operations and allowing the airport to become its largest hub in the world. CVG’s reinvention from a major passenger hub to a major cargo hub was further solidified by the announcement of Amazon Prime Air to create a worldwide shipping hub, investing $1.49-billion into the airport and beginning operations on May 1, 2017. 

With an increase in usage of larger jets and nighttime operations, this project investigates the externalities of becoming a cargo hub on areas adjacent to CVG. Inspired by the work of Benedikt Boucsein, Kees Christiaanse, Eirini Kasioumi and Christian Salewski in their book The Noise Landscapes, the spatial consequences of runway infrastructure at CVG are further explored, illustrating how future growth around the airport can be influenced.

As Sonja Dümpelmann and Charles Waldheim explain in Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age, airports have always tackled larger societal issues, “reflecting the tension between global and local economies and desires” (page 115). Paths for takeoff and landing have been causing externalities like noise pollution since the advent of commercial flight. As cargo hubs continue increasing in size, it’s imperative that landscape is used as a tool to remediate the adverse effects of aviation, mitigating not only noise, but air, soil and water pollution, as well as manage storm water and wildlife, all while enhancing the airport’s aesthetic appearance (page 21).