AIR CARGO PROBLEMS
General planned to stop cargo service on July 1, but recent negotiations led them to extend its stay until July 15. Airport officials also say the airlines are negotiating with a new company to take over the cargo service.
The problem is that some airlines have already stopped their cargo service here in Reno, and some businesses are already suffering.
From right here in Reno, Catherine Fitzpatrick ships the meat that ends up on dishes in fine restaurants all over the country, from LA to Manhattan.
"That's a lot of meat," says Fitzpatrick. "It’s crucial to get it out because it’s perishable."
She's always counted on six different airlines to ship their meat to customers, but two weeks ago, Fitzpatrick got a memo announcing that Air General, the cargo contractor at Reno Tahoe international, is pulling out. Soon after, many of the airlines cut their cargo service here in Reno.
"Now it adds another day to the shipping process. We have to pack it here, send it to San Jose and ship it out of San Jose."
For Sierra Meat, which ships up to 5,000 pounds each day, cargo service is crucial and one of the reasons why the company relocated to Reno.
"One of the factors when the bosses were looking into moving into the area was because the airport that is so easily accessible and the airlines' cargo shipping was available."
Airport officials say they know cargo service is key to local businesses and that it can draw more companies to the area, but they say the airlines, which have struggled financially since 9/11, will have to sort it out.
"Good cargo service is important in this part of the country," says Brian Culpin, public affairs manager for Reno Tahoe International Airport. "So we want to make sure we don't have an interruption of services. We've been working in the background, encouraging the airlines to get this solved."
They say there's not much they can do because this is an airline, not an airport issue, but business managers we spoke with say the airport, as well as the city and county, can and should do more.
"This is a growing community," says Fitzpatrick. "Doesn't Reno want our business? And part of our business is to ship out cargo to other parts of the country, and we can’t do that now. It’s frustrating."