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Cargo could be key to lifting Detroit airport traffic

March 10, 2014

As passenger totals have remained flat over the past few years, airport officials are developing a strategy to land more cargo to deliver. More cargo shipped through Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run airports could bolster the region's goal of becoming a transportation and logistical hub. If the plan is successful, it could drive down airport costs and relieve pressure on airlines to raise ticket prices, officials say. Michael Belzer also sees the possibilities of growing cargo as equally as the difficulties. The associate professor of industrial relations at Wayne State University, considered an expert on the trucking and freight industry, said transportation which includes cargo is a "drive demand industry." If the economy picks up and the former Aerotropolis project takes off, air cargo gains may gain traction, he said. "I think it's going to be a challenge," Belzer said. "People are not going to want to ship by air if they can help it. It's the most expensive way to move freight. You have to focus on increasing freight in the Detroit area and be working in a broader way to drive up the volume of freight that we handle here."