Amazon sorting center approved for Lakeland Linder airport

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Lakeland city commissioners gave their blessing to a project that is expected to bring considerable money and jobs to the city.

They voted unanimously Monday to OK an Amazon sorting center at Lakeland Linder International Airport.

Seven or eight flights a day would bring merchandise to the center, where it would be organized and shipped directly to consumers.

The operation is expected to create at least 1,000 new jobs and put at least one million dollars a year into the city’s coffers, just from leasing fees.

Amazon first approached the airport with the idea back in 2017.

“What the scale and scope was going to be, we had no idea. But the size and scope today is gigantic. It’s a win for this airport, and a win for this community," said Gene Conrad, the airport’s Executive Director.

Area businesses hope it’s a winning situation for them, as well.

Sheltair, a company that sells fuel and provides ground support at Lakeland Lindner, says when Amazon comes in, they expect to expand their operation to meet the mega retailer’s demand.

“From the initial indications from the airport, we would probably have to get additional fuel storage,” Warren Kroeppel, Sheltair’s chief operating officer, told FOX 13.

A well-known local restaurateur, Marcos Fernandez hopes Amazon gives his new business a kick start. He plans on opening a restaurant called D’Lucas on the second floor of the airport terminal where several other eating establishments have had short runs.

“We are going to reach out to Amazon and potentially try to strike a deal for that business,” Fernandez said.

Amazon plans to break ground in July and be up and running by 2020. Initially, it is leasing 47 acres and may lease more down the road.

Lakeland’s gain is Tampa’s loss. Amazon switching its flights from Tampa International Airport to the new sorting center in Polk County. Conrad says Lakeland is attractive to the mega-retailer because it is cheaper to operate here, and there is room for potential expansion.